You’ve got plenty of flower choices for a green wedding, but some pack a bigger eco-punch than others. Luckily it’s easy to break down.
First some general eco-friendly flower buying tips:
- Going local is almost always more eco-friendly than not. With carbon transport issues, packaging, and weird non-fair trade practices buying local flowers is a good way to keep your flower footprint small. Even if a local grower is not certified organic, you may want to check them out. Not being certified doesn’t always mean that a grower doesn’t use sustainable growing practices. You can search Local Harvest for flower growers near you.
- Try to choose seasonal flowers, although if you have a specific theme or color in mind this is not always possible.
- Aim for a less is more approach. Simple bouquets and less flowery decor means your wedding has fewer flower waste and a smaller footprint. To flush out your flower decor you can always make some awesome wedding flowers with recycled paper. You can also use gift-worthy live plants and bulbs in pots as decor which doubles up (decor/favors) and doesn’t contribute to a large waste issue.
- Grow your own – if you’ve got the time you can grow all your own wedding flowers or even force bulbs for table settings if you’re short on time. This costs less (except for the time commitment) and ensures you get VERY local, pesticide free flowers.
- Pay attention to the containers and wraps. Eco-friendly flowers loose some points if you place them in icky plastic containers or floral foam (which is not biodegradable). Your florist or you can create bouquets using eco-friendly alternative such as glass vases (mason jars look amazing actually for vases and serve more than one purpose), bamboo vases and pots, and paper plus instead of foam to keep flowers steady use rocks, beans, or reusable and recyclable glass marbles.
- If you have your garden in the spring or summer in a natural setting – say a community garden or park, you may not need as many cut flowers because of the natural appeal of growing flowers.
Flower labels and campaigns to watch for and support…
Fair Trade and VeriFlora both impose strict environmental and labor standards on farms, such as pesticide use is limited and workers must be paid fairly. However, neither label requires that flowers be fully organic. If you can buy flowers that are both USDA certified organic and either Fair Trade or VeriFlora certified. NOTE: it is very important to recognize the distinction between “Fair Trade” and an organizational term such as TransFair USA. The difference is that “Fair Trade” does not guarantee fair wages for coffee harvesters while “TransFair USA” does.
ILRF’s Fairness in Flowers Campaign has promoted the occupational health and safety and the labor rights of workers in the cut flower industries of Colombia and Ecuador since 2003. According to this group, “Most of the roses and carnations produced in these countries are exported to the United States where they are sold in florist shops, supermarkets, and on online retail sites. There are 40,000 flower workers in Ecuador and over 100,000 in Colombia, working to grow, harvest, and package these flowers” and workers aren’t always treated fairly. Learn how you can support flower growers.
What sort of flowers do you want at your green wedding?