Sustainability as a concept can be a bit of a minefield. Even if you're keen to start making a positive difference, it can be tricky to know where to start, and the world of floristry has its own unique challenges.
From field to florist to that someone special, we're all aware of the impact our industry has on the world around us. But, to facilitate real change we first need to recognise what we're up against. Here are some of the main challenges we're facing as an industry, and the questions we're asking ourselves to better understand what we can do to make the biggest difference:
Flowers traditionally take a lot of energy to produce, transport, store, deliver, and dispose of. Reducing the use of fossil fuels to reduce our carbon emissions is key to limiting the harmful effects of climate change. So we’ve been investigating how, and where we can reduce our emissions and what we can do to cut unnecessary water use and reduce the amount of potential waste entering our supply chain.
Resources & waste
Aside from energy use generating carbon emissions, some businesses operate in ways that use a huge amount of water, and send a lot of waste to landfill (or elsewhere).
Plastic & packaging
Did you know that over 99% of plastic is made from chemicals sourced from fossil fuels? [Source: ciel.org]. Every product or piece of packaging originates somewhere and ultimately ends up somewhere else once it's reached the end of its usable life. Far too few of the products currently used in floristry are durable, reusable, genuinely recyclable (or recycled), or compostable.
Any industry that relies on things to be grown, or uses land for production, manufacturing, distribution or retail, has a physical footprint that contributes to the loss of biodiverse wilderness. In addition, pollution along the supply chain can seep into the soil, water and air, resulting in harmful chemicals travelling along the food chain. The Challenges
There is so much 'information' out there about sustainability and how we can solve all these issues, but it can change or contradict itself depending on who you ask and when you ask! Knowing which initiatives will have a positive, and real, impact as opposed to expensive gimmicks or overstated eco-promises is very difficult. At Interflora, we're on a mission to understand, simplify, prioritise, and then share the steps we can take together that are more likely to have a great positive impact, without adversely affecting your bank account or how your business works.
Sustainability is About People Too
A happier, healthier, more inclusive and peaceful world and workplace is something every business should be striving for. We believe we can achieve this through better understanding of our differences, and better ways of making everyone feel included, respected, valued, trusted and deserving of success and fulfilment. It's unlikely that anyone reading this would ever intentionally do anything that could deprive a person of their human rights or dignity at work, but often the ways that business is done, or the people we do business with, can unintentionally have that effect. In addition to our continued commitment to eradicating Modern Slavery, we are working to ensure fair employment and protection of human rights throughout our extended supply chains. And as a company with our roots firmly in the local florist shop as well as a connection to bigger global business networks, we're aware of the impact that all scales of organisations can have on local and regional communities, both good and bad. Working at a community level at Interflora Head Office, and with our florists around the UK and Ireland, we’re committed to making a difference through charitable support and volunteering initiatives. Although it seems like a long list of problems and pressures, we're in this together! We've already built a forum of passionate Interflora florists who will be joining us on our journey and we're confident that we can make a real difference, together.
Zara Taylor is Head of Wholesale & Supply at Interflora.
She has worked in flowers since 2010, first at Flamingo Horticulture, then at Interflora. Zara recently completed Cambridge University’s CISL course on Sustainable Business Management and has a personal passion for living a positive, minimal-impact lifestyle.