We all know that creating beautiful floral arrangements can be a magical experience. However, have you ever stopped to think about the what's underneath the flowers? What materials are used to make those stunning displays? One type of mechanic that's commonly used is floral foam. While it might seem like a convenient tool to keep flowers in place, it's worth taking a closer look at the environmental and health impacts of this popular product.
First of all, let's talk about the environmental impact of floral foam. Did you know that floral foam is made from non-biodegradable plastics? It can take hundreds of years to break down in landfills, and even then, it breaks down into micro-plastics, only contributing to the plastic pollution crisis. However, the harm doesn't stop there. When floral foam is soaked in water, as it often is to keep flowers hydrated, it releases small particles that can easily go down the drain and end up in our waterways. It then also harms marine life. Some studies have found that marine animals, such as fish and birds, mistake these tiny particles for food, leading to significant health problems and even death.*
To help you envision the amount of waste "each foam block is equivalent in weight to around 10 plastic bags"*. Let's say that each centerpiece uses 1/2 a block of foam. And each wedding has on average 10-16 centerpieces = 5-8 blocks of foam. And each florist does on average 12-20 weddings a year = 60-160 blocks of foam. Which in turn means the equivalent of 600-1,6000 plastic bags per florist 😳
But it's not just the environment that's affected by floral foam. There are also health risks associated with using it. Floral foam contains chemicals that can be harmful to human health, and it can release microplastics and VOCs (volatile organic compounds) into the air. Florists and others who work with floral foam regularly have reported respiratory problems and skin irritation.
So what can we do about it? The good news is that there are plenty of foam-free alternatives that are just as effective, and sometimes even better than floral foam. You can use reusable floral frogs, chicken wire, or small buckets/vessels to keep your flowers in place and hydrated. These alternatives are not only better for the environment, but they can also offer better support for stems, will reduce waste, and allow flowers to live longer as they have direct access to water. I also find that you can produce more airy and cost effective arrangements as there is not as much mechanics to cover up, so you can use less product!
In summary, it's time to start thinking more critically about the materials we use in the floral industry. While floral foam might seem like a convenient tool, it's clear that it's not worth the negative impacts it can have on our environment and health. So let's all make an effort as florist to go foam free and as clients to ASK for foam free arrangements; to choose alternatives that are better for us and the planet. Together, we can create beautiful arrangements without harming our world in the process. Because EVERY day should be Earth Day!
If you'd like to learn more about designing foam free please reach out!
Peace, love, and flowers my friends!