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A Sustainable Alternative to Fresh Flowers

Reducing your carbon footprint and protecting the planet...

David Attenborough's 'Blue Planet' made it very clear that 'what we do leaves a mark'.

If you, like me, are trying to be kinder to the planet we live on and share with all of its other incredible inhabitants then you too are trying to be more aware of the small steps we can all take at home and through our daily activities to reduce our carbon footprint.

We, as a family, have made a conscious effort, at home, to ensure our household rubbish is recycled in all of the correct bins. We actually received a new bin this week, the purple lidded bin... paper and cardboard only! So, I will be investing in yet another bin for our kitchen instead of hanging a bag on the kitchen door handle to fill with all of our paper and cardboard.

I have reverted back to soap instead bottles of shower gel, I have tried numerous shampoo bars instead of bottles but I am still searching for one that doesn't leave my hair feeling more 'unwashed' than it was to begin with... any suggestions would be greatly welcomed.

We have metal or bamboo drinking straws, paper cotton buds, reusable and washable face wipes and pads for my daily skincare routine and we use 'bags for life' instead of purchasing the plastic bags from the shops. This one took the most getting used to as I always forgot to put them in the car before I left the house.

As much as we trying our best at home and learning new ways to improve, it is really important to me that I do as much as I can through my small business also. One of the main reasons I set up 'Mayflower and Lily' was to provide beautiful flowers that last. They must look as real as possible and look as gorgeous 3, 5 or even 1o years on from the day they are received. I am an unfortunate sufferer of dreaded hay fever which resulted in me having streaming, itchy eyes and the sniffles throughout my wedding day... far from desirable.

I have wanted to work with flowers and in the wedding industry for about 8 years, at the start of my wedding planning experience! Unfortunately, my wedding day and the way I struggled with my hay fever made me realise it might not be possible... but I didn't give up. Many of my friends and family suggested wedding planning as a career choice, it was definitely a thought! A few years ago I received some faux flowers from a friend and that sparked my interest. Hours upon hours of research led to me finally taking the leap into the world of faux flowers.

My research led me to uncover a number of shocking truths about the cut flower industry and I know many fresh flower florists are aware of these facts and I know they are doing as much as they can to counteract them. It is a learning experience like everything else and the solutions to these problems will evolve, it just takes time.

Fresh flowers require huge amounts of energy and land to grow. Heating greenhouses often requires the combustion of natural gas which releases CO2. This gas is also released into the environment when these flowers are transported via air to the UK. One study revealed that 3Kg of CO2 was released into the atmosphere PER rose stem. 3Kg!!

Pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers are understandably used during the mass production of fresh flowers to reduce the negative impact the different pests that eliminate crops and their production. These pesticides can pollute the local areas, leach into the soil and through the process of Eutrophication of the water supply (did i mention i used to be a science teacher?) can also occur thus reducing water quality.

All of these causes clearly have a knock on effect to the environmental impact.

Honey bees, Resin bees and other pollinators are also on a steep decline in numbers due the uses of such chemicals.

I could go on and on but this blog was not intended to be a science lesson, so I will swiftly move on...

Faux flowers are obviously not fresh, so there is no requirement for excessive land use to grow them. There are no pesticides, herbicides or fertilizers used, no requirement to heat greenhouses or polytunnels and there isn't such an urgency to ensure a quick delivery to the UK, so instead of being transported by air under temperature controlled conditions, they are often transported by the seas in much larger quantities, with significantly less packaging.

Yes the production of the faux flowers also requires the combustion of natural gases in the running of the equipment and machinery needed for the raw materials and there will be chemicals used that are not environmentally friendly. I am not suggesting the faux flower industry is a carbon neutral industry, we still have a long way to go for this to be the case, but there are definitely benefits.

*They last longer - they are the perfect way to keep a forever memory of your special day

*They can be swapped out seasonally, stored carefully and reused.

*There is no waste! After a wedding or event they can be dismantled, reused or given as gifts.

*They do not require temperature controlled storage conditions

*They do not require as much packaging because the blooms are not easily bruised

*They can be very easily transported

*They are perfect for hay fever sufferers

*Faux flowers can be used at any time of the year, not just when they would naturally be in season.

This blog was to highlight the benefits of faux flowers to the consumer and the environment. It is no way meant to be a direct comparison to the fresh flower industry. I know fresh flower florists personally and I follow many fantastically talented florists through various social media platforms and they too are very aware of the things that need to be done to help the environment and they are making huge strides to do just that. Both the fresh flower industry and the faux flower industry have problems that require solutions and they are both working very hard behind the scenes to make sure they are doing their 'bit'.

Hopefully now, you, as a consumer, have a little more information to be able to make an informed choice.

I still have fresh flowers in my home. I buy from UK growers (as do many fresh flower florists these days) or I grow my own and you could too.

I never want to see a world where fresh flowers no longer exist but I do want to make conscious, informed decisions.

What is important to you?

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