The Definition of Sustainable Floral Design or, Just Sustainable Design for that matter.
If you haven't tuned in previously, you may not know that the reason I'm in this green floral and event business to begin with is because I myself was looking to plan an event sustainably. And because there was so few resources at the time, I ended up learning a lot trying to work it out on my own.
So now, almost 3 years after I started planning my first sustainable wedding, I am looking around and seeing a lot more green. But, I'm not sure it's all what it's cracked up to be. Something I've heard lately is: "green-washing". The idea that with a few elements of eco-friendly products or some organic materials, a new product or service can be called "green". Then people are tantalized by the words and regretfully miss that the product or service isn't altogether that green or sustainable. Kind of like new condos, built to look like an old warehouse or loft with some recycled iron and bamboo floors. It may look from the onset to be "green" but in reality, you may come to find out that virtually all housing developments are using recycled iron these days and the warehouse/loft look actually comes with a hefty heating and cooling bill to control all that extra air space.
So, I go into green floral design knowing that if I want to call myself truly green and sustainable, I better do the best job I can or else... Or else my conscience won't be able to take it.
And this leads me to the definition. What exactly is sustainable floral design anyway? Well, I couldn't find much talk about it, but I did find plenty that mentioned sustainable design and found some ideas I think fit the bill. In an interview and story by David Carlson that was highlighted on Treehugger.com
, designer Satyendra Pakhalé gives some thought to it. He says "the best way to make sustainable design is to concentrate on quality, both concerning design and material. To produce better products. Mass consumption and sustainability doesn’t go very well together" and I agree. Taking a look at floral and event design through this lens shows us that when we work on a smaller scale, when artesans, designers, growers, bakers, candy makers and printers are involved at the local and small business level, then we are working more sustainably. But of course, this also means that those small businesses should also be getting their materials and services at the local level. This can be hard to do, if not impossible. What materials have solely been produced in your 50 mile radius? Yes, those flowers were grown here but where did the seeds come from? And what about the truck that delivered the flowers and what about the diesel that fired up the engine of the truck?
Yes, it's difficult. But it's not always impossible. With information and education, consumers and businesses alike can learn more about where their stuff comes from and ask themselves, is it really needed? What can I find that's locally produced that will do the job? Will it cost me more in the long run to buy the well-made product, or the throw-away?
And so I move toward a second point by the writer of this story highlighted on Treehugger.com and davidreport.com
: David Carlson. He says: "given the growing bounty of choices available to us all, it's more important than ever to simply think about our personal interactions with our stuff and where it comes from. It's not about sustainability for the sake of calling it "green"; it's about making meaningful connections with the things that surround us, and interacting with design and products accordingly."
And so, why not think of sustainable design and even sustainable floral design as the production of materials and services that are rendered with a full heart. Taking ownership in the quality of the design, knowing the people who printed the cards and hence knowing that they do their best to use biodegradable inks and recycled paper. Ordering the flowers from a local grower who can tell you how they grow their flowers and how they too hate pesticides. Avoiding cheap materials that may provide ease, such as floral foam, styrofoam, or plastic and instead going with wire, recycled paper boxes, glass or metal and knowing that spending the extra money will add quality and longevity to the product.
A lesson I've learned in my own life about sustainability is that I can create my own replenishing world of food and flowers around me. So, I've started growing my own vegetables, flowers, fruits and even some greens I can use in my floral designs. It's taking time and some energy, but every time new growth shows it head or new flowers show me brilliant colors or when I get to harvest some vegetables from the earth, I remember why I do it.
Because the brilliant flowers I tossed in the kitchen, traveled 15 feet to get there and the green onions I tossed in that soup taste so great when you grow them yourself.
It's almost as if we need to turn the clock back a few decades if not a few hundred years. Go back to when you and I used to grow our own food. When I had honey and you baked bread, and so we traded. When the local dairy raised cows without hormones and fresh milk was delivered in the morning in glass bottles that were recycled for the next customer. Let's remember what it was like to live simply. When cars went 35 miles an hour and we thought that was so fast and made life so easy. Going back to those times we realize that although technology born in the future can seem exciting and promising, it may not always offer the correct answers when it comes to living in the future. In some ways, we had green and sustainable right the first time, when it was just called living.
And so with design, I feel we need to follow a similar path. And in these times of economic stress and strife, if we can't afford the full brigade of flowers, sit-down dinners for 200 and multiple carats on our fingers, maybe we should opt for the cheaper version. That being the more simple but still well-made and sustainable version.
In Green, Health and Less Stress