Stop getting red about being green

Eco Blog headerWhilst Sir David Attenborough has done a fabulous job of raising awareness about pollution, the world hasn’t yet caught up and probably won’t for a long old time.  It’s taken years to get us into this mess … it will take a fair few years to get us out of it.

Which is why I get irritated by the eco warrior florists (I’ve nicknamed them eco florriors) who are all over social media at the moment seemingly hell bent on making commercial florists feel guilty if they aren’t foam free, aren’t using the right packaging, aren’t growing their own, aren’t delivering by bike or foot, aren’t hugging a tree.

Because in the harsh commercial world of floristry not only is it very difficult to go completely au natural but, more concerning, a lot of the comments are based on very little fact and the people saying them seem unwilling to hear the truth.

For example the claim that foam is toxic. Bunkum; not just untrue but actually bordering on the libellous. What’s more Smithers Oasis have spent zillions developing a faster degrading foam to try and meet the new needs. It may not be perfect yet but it’s a heck of a start and in my opinion should be applauded not slagged off.

The no foam movement also fails to take into account that many, many venues simply refuse designs in water, particularly Royal Palaces and historic buildings who we know won’t change their minds. It’s probably why people like Phillipa Craddock (she of Royal Wedding fame) say on their website that they will avoid foam wherever possible, rather than tying themselves up into a movement that isn’t always commercially viable. Let’s face it; no events, no revenue, no wages.

Oh yes and foam makes it possible for consumers to have designs THEY want - be it flower walls or bespoke funeral tributes – at prices they can afford and in turn makes florists enough money to keep the whole sector going.

Commercially (and I mean proper commercially rather than a pocket money wage) going no foam is incredibly expensive in terms of labour and, as I saw only too well at Chelsea, far too often results in a wilting design before its time.

As for only buying British. Oh purleeze … get a grip. If it’s in season, and the quality is consistently good enough, then of course you must buy British … it makes commercial sense. However to decry imports is a nonsense and again smacks of unreality, lack of knowledge or a desire for a good PR angle.

Logistically the UK could NEVER grow enough flower to meet the needs of the market. We don't have enough land but, even if we did, the impact of the heat and light needed to grow them would cause far more problems than solutions.

Countries like Colombia, Ecuador and Kenya are using natural light and heat, not artificial like us in Northern Europe so are actually being far kinder to the planet than they are given credit for, never mind the employment and life betterment elements.

Oh yes, and while I’m at it, let’s dispel another myth. Most flowers from Kenya, Ecuador, Colombia etc are transported on passenger planes as belly filler cargo so actually they aren’t adding to the problem, they are utilising flights already in the air … usually carrying tourists going on holiday!

I’ve come to the conclusion that - with a few exceptions - most of the eco florriers are either; rich enough not to have to charge proper prices, using the movement to garner press coverage because it makes a good story (most consumer journalists don’t realise the facts) or simply blind to the commercial realities of life in a busy florist shop.

Which is why I would ask, ever so politely, can we please stop implying that the thousands of commercial florists who do use foam, do buy imported flowers, do use a van for deliveries etc. are either second rate or should feel guilty.

They probably desperately want to be as ‘green’ as possible - it goes with the territory of being a flower lover - and I know many florists are actively looking at their options to do what they can and when they can However not only will it take time but not every florist has a customer base that is willing to pay the price of being eco-friendly, be it visually or financially.

Until the average consumer can both appreciate and afford to do the green thing let’s tone down the guilt trip comments, the inaccurate accusations and the rather goodie two shoes approach and instead give commercial florists a break. They are the backbone of the industry and the ones who keep growers, wholesalers, manufacturers and their many staff in employment.