Don't assume fresh flowers are eco-friendly - How to make sure yours are!
Updated: May 23
Adapted from an article originally published in The Colorado Wedding Magazine
by Maréa Janae
I get it! If you’re a flower lover like me, you know that nothing can truly replace the sweet aroma of freshly cut flowers on your wedding day. While there are some major sustainability pitfalls to look out for, if having live flowers to adorn your celebration is a non-negotiable for you, there are plenty of ways that you can put the planet first with your big day blooms. Let me share a few key lessons I’ve learned from the florists I’ve interviewed and worked alongside.
Source Sustainably Shopping local is always a good choice, and your wedding flowers are no exception! Not only does buying from a local farm give back to your community, but it significantly reduces the carbon footprint of your flowers. Rather than being cut continents away, doused in preserving chemicals, packaged in plastic, flown across the ocean, and hauled in refrigerated trucks, you can opt for stems that were grown in your own state and cut out so much unnecessary waste! Additionally, smaller flower farms tend to be more intentional about sustainable growing practices, such as eliminating the use of chemical pesticides and using regenerative farming techniques to invest in healthy soil. And if all of these wonderful benefits aren’t enough, the cherry on top is that locally grown flowers are the sweetest-smelling blooms you’ll ever breathe in. The lack of chemicals and freshness of the cut allows them to maintain that fragrant aroma that will take you right back to grandma's garden.
So where do you find these aromatic, organic and locally grown flowers? In Colorado, we are lucky to have an amazing flower co-op, Colorado Flower Collective. Skim through coloradoflowercollective.com/buyers to view the long list of Colorado florists who have chosen to put the planet first by supporting local farmers. If you’re in the Colorado Springs area, we highly recommend a visit to Gather Mountain Blooms where you can see (and smell!) sustainable farming in action. They offer buckets of blooms for the DIY bride; if you want sustainably sourced flowers on a budget and don’t mind getting your hands dirty, this may be the perfect option for you. No matter who your florist is, I encourage you to ask them about their supply chain and if they’re able to provide you with fresh-cut stems that prioritize our planet.
2. Arrange Responsibly When your heart skips a beat upon seeing an instagram photo featuring a lush floral display wildly sprawling across a wooden arch, eucalyptus spilling out in every direction, dahlias dancing in center spotlight and amaranth flowers dramatically dripping down to the ground, the part you aren’t seeing is all of the hidden plastic holding this show-stopping arrangement together. The floral foam, zip ties, and individual water tubes used to hold everything in place and keep the flowers moisturized are all various forms of plastic that will ultimately get tossed into a landfill, taking up to 5 lifetimes to decompose. (1) This waste can be easily avoided by asking your florist to arrange the flowers in chicken wire instead of foam (wet moss can be wrapped inside the wire to help hold in moisture), use flower frogs for vase arrangements, or volcanic rock-based and biodegradable foam alternative, Agra Wool. (2) Reusable wire and biodegradable twine can easily replace plastic zip ties. You’ll also want to be mindful of the vases that centerpiece bouquets are displayed in. Rather than buying new (which can cause energy and material waste), consider renting them from your florist or a decor rental company. Better yet, create an eclectic look by purchasing mismatched vintage vessels- then gift them to your guests at the end of the night to double as your favors! Cutting costs while protecting the planet is what I like to call winning.
3. Dispose Deliberately
If you’ve gone to the work of sourcing organic and local flowers and making sure they’re arranged with sustainable materials, then you certainly don’t want to miss the final crucial step in this responsible floral recipe. After the last photo is snapped, the last dance danced and the last song belted loudly by off-pitch, stumbling drunk groomsmen, where do those gorgeous garlands go? More often than not, the sad truth is, you guessed it: the landfill. Biodegradable or not, in the landfill environment, even something as natural as flowers will release methane gasses, which are “more than 25 times as potent as carbon dioxide at trapping heat in the atmosphere.” (3) So what’s the better option? Donate, compost, or both!
Donating your flowers to a nursing home, women’s shelter, or children’s hospital will allow the beauty of your wedding day to continue bringing joy to those most in need of it for weeks, instead of getting tossed after mere hours of being on display. If you’re working with a sustainable florist, they may already have a donation process in place. At Dream Catcher Weddings, we offer the donation of leftover flowers to a local nursing home at no cost to our clients. Anything that is not in good enough shape to be repurposed into new bouquets, we’ll toss into the compost bin which we haul out and drop off locally, ensuring that the flowers’ nutrients are returned to the soil. This nutrient-rich compost may be used to enhance the soil for the growing of future flowers, bringing it beautifully full-circle the way nature intended.
Design, Planning and Coordination by Dream Catcher Weddings