SUSTAINABLE STEMS

A look at
flower sustainability
and how to repurpose
your blooms

I started really thinking about this last month during Valentine’s Day. I saw an article somewhere detailing facts about how many flowers are produced and delivered around the country every year for the holiday. That has a massive environmental impact, all for flowers that will likely get tossed in the trash within a week.

BUT BUT BUT! It doesn’t have to be so! There are so many things you can do with a bouquet of flowers long after they’ve outlived their life on your countertop or coffee table. From wall art to infused beauty products, flowers have so many uses so we can appreciate their colorful beauty even longer.

Flower Power

Americans are expected to spend more than $2 billion on fresh cut flowers in 2020, according to the National Retail Federation

More than $1.3 billion worth of fresh flowers are imported to the U.S. from other countries every year, with most coming from Columbia and Ecuador.

That’s a lot of waste right, isn’t it?

You bet it is, in more ways than one. No matter where they are produced, flower farming requires a lot of resources, namely water. It’s estimated that 100-acre flower farm uses more than 900 cubic meters of water every month. Expand that, and you can see how quickly it can add up.

Furthermore, all those imported flowers have to be transported here by planes and trucks. And that has a cost. According to the International Council on Clean Transportation, in the 3 weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, approximately 114 million liters of fuel are burned by flower delivery flights. That amounts to roughly 360,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide being emitted into the atmosphere.

That’s a big problem because according to many scientists, carbon dioxide is one of the main contributing factors to climate change.

Mother Nature’s least favorite holiday…

For so many reasons. And the worst part is that after enjoying the beauty and color that flowers provide, so many of us end up throwing them in the trash once they’ve wilted.

So what can we do about it?

Well, there are lots of possibilities.

Introducing
Flower Repurposing.

1. DONATE YOUR FLOWERS

There are a variety of places you can drop off gently used flowers to be cared for and brighten up someone else’s day.

  • REPEAT ROSES
  • FULL BLOOM
  • RANDOM ACTS OF FLOWERS
  • You can also check with local community organizations to see if they accept flower donations, including:
    • Nursing homes
    • Children’s hospitals
    • Funeral Homes
    • Churches
    • Womens’ Shelters

2. MAKE SOAP WITH THEM

You can also get crafty. For this (as well as the candles below) you’ll want to use dried flower petals. You can dry them by pressing the petals between old book pages for a few days, or handing each stem upside down somewhere cool and dry.

You’ll need a soap base and molds, as well as essentials oils. Just melt the base, add oils, add flowers to molds and pour over soap base. You can also do this in layers. Let the molds harden for a few hours in the fridge, and voila!

I’ll post the tutorial here once my next batch of roses dries! In the meantime, pinterest has got you covered.

3. MAKE CANDLES WITH THEM

Another fun project. You’ll need wax, a container, essential oils, a candle wick, a pencil and maybe a wooden skewer. After you melt the wax, you arrange and stick flowers around your container, pour in the hot wax, add the wix and let it set. Super easy and super stunning (plus what a great gift.)
Click HERE for a great tutorial.

BUT, if you don’t want to go through the effort of making a candle, there are plenty of companies out there that will do it for you, including some that will make a candle out of something sentimental like a wedding bouquet (definitely bookmarking that idea!!)

4. USE THE PETALS TO MAKE INFUSED OIL

So many flowers, especially roses and lavender, have amazing benefits for your mood, skin, sleep and more. Just crushed up the dried petals, add to some kind of gentle oil (like jojoba or grapeseed) and heat thoroughly in a pot of hot water. After the oil sits for a few days, strain it well through a cheesecloth. For a more detailed tutorial, click HERE.

5. USE THEM TO MAKE WALL ART OR A CARD

Again, pinterest can be a major springboard for inspiration here, including easy tutorials to use dried flowers to create framed wall art, colorful potpourri displays, even iron into homemade stationary, lampshades, etc. See how creative you can get!

6. COMPOST THEM

The global flower industry isn’t exactly the most sustainable, but there are things you can do with all those roses that are a lot better for the planet than tossing them in the trash.

If all else fails and you just want them out of the house, at least don’t trash them! Flowers can absolutely be composted. We’re fortunate to have composting available in our apartment building. But you can click HERE to easily find a facility near you. Even better, if you have a backyard or some small outdoor space, start composting on your own! There are plenty of easy guides to get started out there, including THIS ONE and THIS ONE.

Let’s take it a step further…

One way that we can help reduce overall waste from the flower production industry is to buy local!

Slow Flowers is a movement and an award winning online directory started by Debra Prinzing. Slow Flowers can help you “find florists, studio designers, wedding and event planners, supermarket flower departments and flower farmers who are committed to using American-grown flowers (now in Canada, too!).”

I hope you feel inspired to think a little harder next time you pick up your weekly stems, or get a surprise bunch from your significant other. Maybe you can take the intentional to step to give back in some way.

RESOURCES

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