Let's break it down.
Floristry encompasses everything from growing blooms to arranging them. When I say Urban Desert Flora specializes in sustainable floristry, I mean it. I think about sustainability at every step of my process.
The first place I started was picking appropriate flowers and foliage for my hardiness zone. I always select seed varieties that are heat tolerant and drought tolerant. When I am able, I select the extremely heat tolerant and drought tolerant seeds! Living in the desert has made me aware of my water usage. I try to get by with as little as I possibly can. I do not supplement my soil with peat moss. Peat comes from bogs, and they are crucial to the livelihood of our ecosystem. I am thankful to live close to the Arizona Worm Farm. They have amazing natural products to supplement my soil.
Flower production is known for heavy chemical use on the flowers. I am experimenting with different homemade, natural pesticides. My goal is to not use any harsh chemicals on the flowers. Handling those types of chemicals is not something I am interested in exposing myself to.
When it comes to supplementing my designs, I try to shorten my supply-chain as much as I can. I only use flowers that I can get my hands on locally, and from here in the US.
This is my current research area. There are solutions florists use to keep blooms looking pristine and lovely. I want to know where those jugs come from, and what are they really made of? Can I make something similar?? Who knows? I will update as I get there. Seeing as I do not have flowers yet, this little research topic will go on the back burner for a bit.
In my AzMF course, they recommend using a commercial flower preservative. They claim it works 70-80% better than the best homemade preservative. However, I am skeptical of anything coming out of the big flower industry. First of all, who did that research? Was it an independent lab? Was it the company selling the preservative? This is key info left out of the education! I have a hard time believing dextrose, citric acid, and bactericide are the ONLY three components of a commercial floral preservative. I know companies like FloraLife and Oasis are big contributors to the flower design world. I'm not quite buying everything they're selling to me.
I HATE FLORAL FOAM!! Say it with me: Floral foam is gross and bad for me! That's a whole other post in itself, and is in the works for the future. As you can guess, I do not use floral foam. Instead, I use chicken wire pillows, some cool little doodads called flower frogs, agra-wool ( new alternative), and even bundles of sticks. Taking it back old school. I really like using these mechanics. It does take time to get used to, especially if you're used to working primarily with foam. When you stick a stem in foam it pretty much stays exactly in that spot. You get the opposite effect when sticking a bloom through layers of chicken wire! However, I love the free flowing, natural look achieved with these non-foam mechanics.
The big issue surrounding floral foam is that it is a microplastic. Even though there are claims to be biodegradable, it is not. It is still a microplastic! It will only degrade so much. Plus, Oasis (big ol' foam producer) does not instruct on how to properly dispose of the product. The option that is given is not a common practice at your typical city's waste facility. So, what do you do? Most florists just throw it in the garbage and the water down the sink, which is so bad! Definitely contributing to the microplastic issues we are having in aquatic systems.
There are some stunning sprayed and dyed flowers out there. However, they are so bad! They've got so many gross chemicals on them that it just hurts me a little. Gloves should be worn when handling the flowers. This makes them unable to go in the compost bin. The creative in me LOVES it!! Who doesn't love seeing a rainbow rose?! It's awesome. I want to create arrangements with all the neon and crazy cool stuff I see all over Instagram. I kind of did that with the Flower Drip drop, I guess. Regardless, I do not want to use sprayed or dyed flowers in any designs from here on out. Learn, adapt, and change! That's beauty of being human.
There's a shift within the flower industry to become more sustainable, and it is growing each year! I want to be that example for future generations. I want to show that you can be successful, and sustainably conscious at the same time! Most importantly, I encourage you to think for yourself in whatever industry you are involved in. Ask the questions. Strive to make changes for the betterment of your industry. It's past time to tread lightly.