Your wedding day is supposed to be one of the most wonderful days of your life, but with waste, excess food, leftover flowers and a dress you never wear again, it can also be a very wasteful and environmentally destructive day.
There is good news! They don’t have to be this way. From the very start of your wedding journey, you can be ethical, sustainable and promote a better planet. What an awe-inspiring way to say ‘I love you ‘ to each other and to the world.
To help you along the way, we have created a series of blog posts on eco-conscious wedding planning. In this post, we will focus on environmentally friendly, ethically sourced wedding flowers.
Choosing flowers… consider the alternatives
Floral centrepieces and decorations are the most popular, and it’s easy to see why – flowers really do look exquisite.
But remember that freshly cut flowers aren’t great for the environment. What about using potted flowers or even plants like herbs, shrubs or small trees?
After your wedding, these can be given away or you can even take them home, put them in your garden, on your patio, or even keep them as indoor plants to add beauty and elegance to your home.
Locally sourced flowers
If you are opting to go with the cut flowers, there are still tons of things that you can do to reduce the impact on the earth. The best thing you can do is source locally grown flowers.
Most of the flowers we use in the west were actually grown somewhere else!! Over 80% of flowers in western shops are imported from countries in Africa, Asia and South America. Within Europe, many flowers are grown in the Netherlands. The focus on Africa, Asia and South America is because these places are closer to the equator and so tend to have easier growing conditions such as more hours of daylight each day, enough rain, and perfect temperatures.
Farm labour is also cheaper in many of these countries and unfortunately, many farmers and farmworkers are exploited, paid badly or not paid for a long time for their produce. A lot of these farmers and workers are not paid a living wage and so remain in poverty.
The Netherlands is one of the largest exporters of cut flowers worldwide. Almost two-thirds of flowers in Europe are traded through flower auctions in The Netherlands, but this is changing. Over the last few years, flowers have been increasingly imported from East Africa due to cheaper labour costs.
As well as the massive human suffering caused by not paying workers a fair wage, there is also huge damage done to the planet.
You can also opt for sustainably grown blooms that are organic and careful with the use of pesticides or the use of water. Bad farming practices damage the atmosphere, the earth and our waterways. We need to support, promote and choose those farmers that go the extra mile to be sustainable in their farming practices.
Pesticides are a big issue when it comes to farming flowers. Because we don’t eat flowers, there is are far fewer laws when it comes to the use of pesticides in their production. The flower business is one of the largest pesticide consumers worldwide.
Reach out to your potential florists and ask them about the farming techniques used while growing these flowers.
Some florists offer a service where they can compost your greens afterwards. This is a great way to deal with waste and create good from it.
Ask your potential florists if they offer this useful service or get a family member or friend to put your flowers in their compost after the big day.
Re-purposing your flowers
There are many organisations out there that will collect your flowers from your wedding and re-purpose them, giving them to hospitals, hospices and homeless shelters to add a bit of brightness to those who most need it. Ask your potential florists about this as they might have a list of contacts for you.
Wrapping for flowers can create landfill waste so ask for your flowers to be wrapped in paper or some other recyclable material. Avoid floral foam if possible. Floral foam is a non-biodegradable, oil derived material that is filled with toxic materials and often ends up in landfills.
Grow your own flowers
If you have a knack for gardening, perhaps consider growing your own flowers, plants or small trees and bushes for your wedding. This is a great option if you are lucky enough to have a back garden but even if you don’t you can grow flowers and plants indoors in pots. They help to produce oxygen, reduce Co2, smell and look great in your home and save you money too!
You can always hire a florist or flower arranger to organise your blooms for you and set them up in your venue or ceremony location on the day.
Support sustainable florists
There are a growing number (no pun intended) of blooming amazing florists (okay, pun intended that time) out there who can see the problems with the current industry standards and are passionate about sustainability. These brave souls put their money where their mouth is investing in growing their own flowers or sourcing locally grown, organic flowers and investing in sustainable, compostable packaging too.
When you are searching for your wedding florist lookout for those florists who don’t use floral foam, don’t use plastic, source their flowers locally or grow their own, or those who sell ethically certified flowers!
I hope that these tips are helpful. Good luck planning your big day. Please read our other blogs or download our eco-friendly wedding app for free from the links on our home page.