Figures on the CO2 cost of imported flowers are scarce, at least until now.
Trying to both self-educate and empower our staff, I found a ground breaking study on the real CO2 cost of imported, non-UK flowers. You can read a summary of the article here. The data is truly shocking and goes to show the huge power we can have once we become aware of the cost of our consumption habits, both as businesses and individuals.
I would like to discuss how we are building a sustainable business and hope that other florists can embrace these practices to make floristry sustainable.
We can and do:
Source Locally: Choose locally grown flowers whenever possible. Locally sourced blooms reduce the carbon footprint associated with transportation and support local farmers and businesses.
Branches And All are on the path of self-sufficiency in terms of fresh and dried flowers, and supplement our offering by sourcing exclusively from Dundee-based flower farms
2. Seasonal Flowers: Embrace seasonal flowers as they require fewer resources to grow and maintain. Avoiding out-of-season blooms, which often come from distant locations or energy-intensive greenhouses, can significantly reduce environmental impact.
Branches And All solely grow seasonal flowers, we also grow outdoors, which have been shown to produce the least CO2 emissions. We are currently devising a calendar with seasonal species, in colours we can mix and match for our varied customer base.
3. Organic and Eco-friendly Growing: Encourage and support flower growers who use organic and environmentally friendly cultivation practices. This includes avoiding harmful pesticides and synthetic fertilisers, which can harm the ecosystem and human health.
Branches And All do not use any harmful fertilisers or pesticides at our nursery. We opt for organic pest control methods and grow our plants on organic mushroom compost. Our associated flower farms are making huge efforts to decrease any use of harmful chemicals in their cultivation.
4. Reduce Waste: Minimize floral waste by planning arrangements carefully, composting green waste, and reusing materials like vases and ribbons whenever possible.
Branches And All is based on the circular economy ethos, and we have done this with a huge passion for sustainability. Firstly, all our designs are bespoke thus reducing waste. Also, we often make extra smaller vases with cut offs that we gift customers or collaborators. Recenty, we identified a need for custom bunting for which we sourced cut off jute material from ScrapAntics CIC
5. Biodegradable Packaging: Opt for biodegradable or recyclable packaging materials for bouquets and arrangements to reduce plastic waste.
Branches And All have no need to package our designs as we deliver these in our own boxes, which we also use to collect.
6. Water Conservation: Implement water-saving practices such as using efficient irrigation systems, collecting rainwater, and ensuring proper hydration of plants without excessive water usage.
Branches And All have plans to collect rainwater in 100 l barrels at our nursery, we also asses plant state before watering.
7. Sustainable Transportation: Use eco-friendly transportation methods for flower deliveries, such as electric vehicles or bicycles, to reduce carbon emissions.
Branches And All have been making enquiries for a fully electric van for our local deliveries. Meanwhile, we have decided to offset our emission with several wildflower meadows which we will start on the current depot grounds we occupy.
8. Eco-conscious Suppliers: Partner with suppliers who share sustainable values and prioritize eco-friendly practices in their operations.
Branches And All have a strong presence in several business groups Dundee & Angus Chamber of Commerce St Andrews Business Club BNI Scotland North Women Ahead Perthshire Businesswomen's Network and have identified many like-minded SME who value sustainability in their business practices including Dr Jennifer Rao-Williams FRSA John Ferguson Lynsey Penny
9. Educate Customers: Raise awareness among customers about sustainable choices when buying flowers. Encourage them to choose seasonal, locally grown blooms and explain the importance of sustainability in the floral industry.
Branches And All have trialed and tested a workshop for Transition Dundee CIC to raise awareness on the topic of sustainability. Since then, we have other commissions. We are currently offering the 'Sustainability via floral designs' workshops to organisations.
10. Floral Recycling Programs: Set up programs to collect used flowers from events or businesses and repurpose them for compost or other eco-friendly initiatives.
Branches And All includes collection of all our designs, once they are past their best. We then reuse materials or ultimately compost. We would love to explore a collaboration with fellow florists and Transition Dundee CIC to launch a floral recycling program.
11. Supporting Pollinators: Create space outside the shop with native plants that support pollinators like bees and butterflies, contributing to biodiversity and ecological balance.
Branches And All have a huge presence of such species at our nursery and plan to maintain a welcoming space for bumblebees and other pollinators.
12. Certifications and Memberships: Seek certifications or memberships with eco-friendly organizations or industry groups that promote sustainability in floristry.
Branches And All have registered as members of the British Florist Association to ensure we are up to date with practices and industry standards. Also, we are registered to become certified by the The Carbon Literacy Project
By adopting these sustainable practices, florists can play a significant role in reducing the environmental impact of the floral industry and contribute to a more responsible and eco-conscious approach to flower cultivation and distribution.
Our impact is real and can be improved, but only once we are aware of it.