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Are Silk Wedding Flowers Sustainable?

Adapted from an article originally published in The Colorado Wedding Magazine

by Maréa Janae

In your search for sustainable floristry options, you may have stumbled upon resources suggesting that silk wedding flowers are an environmentally conscious alternative to fresh blooms. How can this be? Aren’t live flowers, which can be decomposed straight back into soil nutrients, the most natural and sustainable thing there is? I was skeptical of whether silk flowers are truly eco-friendly or if that’s just a clever bit of greenwashing, so I did a little digging and here’s what I learned.

“Silk” flowers, which are typically made not of silk but rather synthetic materials such as plastic and latex, may not seem like an eco-friendly pick, but let’s dig a little deeper. Like wood flowers, carbon emissions from transportation of silks are greatly reduced since they’re able to make the journey in boats instead of airplanes and refrigerated trucks. If you were to purchase faux flower arrangements new, use them only once and then dispose of them, the carbon cost would be around 2.5 times that of fresh flowers. (1) However, if you rent them from a florist who will arrange the stems into unique bouquets for your wedding and then disassemble and reuse them for many more events, that carbon cost gets split between every couple that uses the same faux flowers.

Kristin Mach of Flintwood Floral, a silk flower rental company based in Parker, CO, told me that she is able to clean and reuse the same flowers hundreds of times, making the carbon footprint per use a mere fraction of that for live flowers with their single use. When you also consider their significantly smaller water usage and the lack of toxic chemicals and pesticides used, the scales certainly start to tip in favor of silk stems. Flintwood Floral provides impressively real-looking arrangements – so real that people often can’t tell the difference! They’re also a very budget-friendly option, renting out at less than half the cost of traditional flowers. And when they finally do reach the end of their life as wedding decor, Kristin donates them to a senior living home where they can continue to bring beauty and color to the world.

As with most questions of product sustainability, zooming out to look at the full life cycle of fresh versus faux blooms offers a different perspective. The freshly grown flower is watered, refrigerated, trucked, used once, and then typically discarded hours after being set on display. The silk stem is manufactured, boated, used hundreds of times then donated before ending it’s life in a landfill. One of the basic principles of sustainability is reuse and renting faux flowers employs this guideline better than any other option. So is it the most sustainable option? The verdict is still out; we’re wedding planners, not environmental scientists. But are faux flowers a really good option for earth-conscious and budget-savvy couples who want to fill their wedding with beautiful blossoms? My opinion has been swayed and I’m giving faux flowers two thumbs up.

Florals by Flintwood Floral

Design, Planning and Coordination by Dream Catcher Weddings



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