More and more often during my consultations, I have brides asking for eco-friendly floral options for their weddings. And happily so. The thousands of weddings that take place each year throughout this great yet carbon-producing nation of ours must surely have an impact on the environment. However, it becomes quickly clear that my beloved tree hugging brides haven’t a clue what it means to be green when it comes to their wedding flowers.
THE MIAMI CONNECTION
Very few people know where the flowers come from that they send to Aunt Muffy after her last facelift or place on the tables at their special affairs. For most of us, we assume since flowers are an elemental part of nature, they must grow them in some secret garden nearby. The fact is that the vast majority of flowers sold in the U.S. are imported from South America, primarily Columbia and Ecuador, then brokered through Miami. From there, they are flown to wholesalers throughout the country and filter down to, well…me. The fossil fuels used to distribute this huge volume of flowers can be described as odious at best. To be truly “green”, you must use flowers that are grown locally and trucked over short distances. In San Diego, we are fortunate to have some of the best flower fields in the country located in our North County and Ventura County. The trade-off is that the variety of flowers is considerably more limited and can be quite a bit more expensive than flowers from South America. So you pay more for less choice, but it’s better for the planet.
It is impossible to talk about eco-friendly harvested products without considering pesticides. The word “organic” automatically implies that flowers we buy are pesticide-free. These chemicals not only harm the workers who grow them, they also ravage the environment in which they are grown. Again, we San Diegans luck out by having several great organic flower farmers right in our neighborhood such as Kendall Farms and Seabreeze Organic Farm that offer some great choices such as organic lavender, protea, alstromeria and a myriad of greens.
The easiest and equally important way to be a friend to the Earth when planning your wedding is to recycle. This can be accomplished in several ways. Similarly to household packaging, floral containers made of plastic, glass and certain metals are all recyclable materials. You can also work with a florist who can rent vases that can be used at many more weddings after yours. To your floral designer’s horror and chagrin, being “green” also means forgoing the use of floral foam which is made of a petroleum product and will likely spend the next gazillion years in a landfill. Perhaps the best way to recycle is to re-use the actual flowers. There is a wonderful organization, Blooms from the Heart, that will pick up centerpieces at the end of your wedding and deliver them to hospice patients all over the city. An added bonus…your wedding flowers can be tax-deductible. Now that’s Green.
Eco-friendly florals can be a challenge for both you and your floral designer. But like a hybrid car, I believe you can be find peace somewhere in the middle. Awareness is the key. So…to be (green) or not to be? That is the question. And probably part of the solution.