It may be a cliche but flowers are a classic for a reason. They’re legitimately wonderful to receive – beautiful, colourful, alive – and a reminder of nature’s extravagant capacity for wonder.
But if you’re thinking of giving flowers to someone special (check your calendars people, Valentine’s Day is sneaking up on us again!) as a token of the shared appreciation you both have for lovable ol’ Mother Nature, you better watch out.
For an industry so steeped in nature, floristry is surprisingly not so environmentally friendly as a whole. The cut flower industry is one of the biggest consumers of pesticides worldwide!
The majority of flowers sold in florists and flower markets across Australia are imported which creates high carbon emissions in transport and a large chemical footprint as they go through two phases of quarantine.
Moreover, to preserve flowers through transport, and to provide for demands for out-of-season blooms – which if you’re in Australia on Valentine’s Day includes many, if not most roses – flowers are often dyed, bleached or otherwise treated with chemical preservatives which makes them harmful to humans and unsuitable to compost.
All this and we haven’t even mentioned our old foe plastic. Not only are most bouquets wrapped in cellophane when transported and sold, florists have their own special form of synthetic, non-biodegradable, single-use micro-plastic – floral foam.
So what should we do? Give up on the whole shebang and tell our significant others that Valentine’s Day is a scam invented by greeting card companies to sell more heart-shaped chocolate boxes?! NEVER!
There are many hardworking horticulturists out there whose passion for flowers is matched only by their dedication to sustainability. These upstanding flowermongers are working to change the floral industry and make the world a better place to bloom. So if you’re looking to buy some blossoms for a special someone (including yourself) check out these fine sustainable florists!
Foraged and Fleurs
Based in Brisbane, Foraged and Fleurs’ beautiful bunches are made with seasonal Australian-grown flowers mixed with, as the name suggests, interesting foraged finds from founder Lucy Reid’s garden or family farm, and inspired by the outdoors and her experiences fossicking in the natural landscape. Foraged and Fleurs (who you might recognise from our Issue 52 cover) has been proudly floral foam-free since day one as Lucy’s guiding practice is treading as lightly as possible in the environment. She also composts all her green waste and wraps her flowers in 100% compostable paper with jute string and biodegradable sticky tape.
Lilac and The Cat
Lilac and the Cat bill themselves as “Melbourne’s leading ethical and eco-friendly florist”. Founder Janelouise Hearn has over 24 years of flower industry experience as well as a deep passion for creating wildly rambling, eco-influenced flora designs. Lilac and the Cat never use cellophane, floral foam or ribbons, instead opting for recycled materials, such as upcycled vases and pots, and their flowers are seasonal, locally grown or ethically foraged from farms and suburban backyards. Excitingly, they also offer a bartering system so you can put your petals to the mettle and trade for trims.
Newcastle’s Botanica Bird began when artist Rachael Cullen started dabbling in botanical illustration and realised that buying flowers and arranging them was bringing more joy to herself and others than just drawing them. She started studying floristry at TAFE and quickly became known for her bold, non-traditional creations. In 2018, Botanica and Bird made the decision to say no to floral foam and imported flowers, concerned about the environmental footprint of the cut flower wedding industry. This only served to make their floral designs more striking or, as Rachael describes them, “sculptural, colourful, sustainable, and fun”!
Poppy and Fern
Poppy and Fern operate with a “field to vase ethos” meaning that the Byron Bay florist shop is filled with freshly cut flowers sustainably grown on their own nearby farm. The flowers are cultivated in the fertile Byron soil using organic farming principles and when they are harvested, there’s always enough left behind for the bees. Florist and farmer Jess Connor is passionate about the ‘Slow Flower’ movement and in addition to harvesting, designing and delivering flowers, she also hosts field tours, runs workshops and attempts to spread awareness about the importance of buying local and chemical-free flowers.
Based in Perth, Euka is a floral design company created and owned by botanical artist Tara Rees. Tara’s work is deeply inspired by her love for the natural Australian landscape so not only does she ensure Euka only uses natural, compostable or recyclable materials in their arrangements, the arrangements themselves focus on showcasing seasonal, native Australian wildflowers. Native flowers are not only singularly striking but long-lasting and hardy. They dry beautifully so you can enjoy them for years – a real bang for your buck bouquet wise.
Bare Bouquets is brought to you from Brisbane’s West End by Katie and Heaven, two florists with a dream to create beautiful, ethical and affordable flower bouquets, backed up by 10 years in the floral industry and a PhD in environmental science between them. Bare Bouquets designs a unique bouquet every day, inspired by the best seasonal flowers that catch their eyes. The next day a new unique design is available and so it goes. Bare Bouquets are climate positive, water wise and plastic-free – each bouquet comes wrapped in simple brown paper with a hemp string bow and the handwritten card will sprout Swan River daisies if planted!
Floraly is a sustainable flower gifting company that offers delivery options to most of mainland Australia (sorry WA and Tassie). Focused on delivering the freshest of flowers with the least amount of waste, they’ve flipped the traditional floral supply chain on its head. According to Floraly, uncertain demands mean that one in every three flowers destined for local florists dies before being bought. So, they start sourcing your flowers only after you press purchase, reducing their flower waste by up to 90%!