Five Sustainable Floral Products to Green Your Designs
Let’s face it, weddings and corporate events can be massively wasteful. But your floral shop doesn’t have to be. In fact, in the upper left corner of this country, it’s a selling point to operate a greener floral studio with sustainable products and techniques. Our clients seek out ways to live more responsibly and love knowing that their decor isn’t unnecessarily wasteful.
We gauge wastefulness by weighing the material’s life cycle. Start of life, during life, and after life. So with this in mind, something like bioboard is less wasteful than styrofoam or foamcore. Floral Soil is less wasteful (if at all) than floral foam.
At the start of life, how was the material created and what pollutants and general yuckies were created by its production? Was it grown? Super. Was it grown locally without chemicals and practices that might pollute waterways and harm insects? Super Duper!!! Was it made from previously recycled content? Love that. How was it shipped?
During it’s life in our studio, how many times can we reuse it? Can we make it into a quality, long-lived piece that our clients will want to keep? Does it give me a mysterious rash? Can my dog eat it?
When we are done with it, where does it go? Can it be recycled? Can it be composted? Can we rent it out again?
Now I’ll admit there is a stockpile of adhesives and paints in our studio that are nowhere near Super Duper, Gold Star Life Cycle Rating, but we do what we can where we can and are always on the lookout for materials that better fit our goals.
Here are a few materials you can be confident in and start using immediately that won’t raise eyebrows.
1. Bioboard: Made originally for printing, this stuff comes in 1/4 inch to 1″ thicknesses and 4X8 foot sheets. It’s extremely light and strong. We use this in place of foam-core, styro sheets, masonite, and even sometimes wood. Don’t get water on it though, because it will dissolve fast. We use this to build scenes, 3D shapes, and support for flower walls. Photo is provided by Laird Plastics, our Seattle source for BioBoard.
2. Floral Soil: currently ramping up production is floral soil solutions, a water- holding, bio=based compound that will replace toxic floral foam. Get on the list to get your own stash and experiment with how it works, including tall arrangements that were once so improbable in a studio without foam. It can be reused for a time, and then tossed into your compost nary a concern. Photo sourced from the Floral Soil Website .
3. Sticks: So versatile, seriously. ‘Le Stick’ is practically used everyday in our studio to create volume and a transport- proof armature in which to stick our stems. Even in low, wide arrangements, a tape grid and a stick armature is all you need to create a secure centerpiece with volume. Haven’t mastered ‘Le Stick’? Try it out in our centerpiece workshop Coming up May 7th! Click Here.
4. Moss: Nature’s natural sponge that holds moisture for days. Use as a matrix for holding stems in place over an opaque container or mass into a ball for a natural sculpture. Both uses eliminate the need for floral foam.
5. Local Flowers: They’re not just prettier but they haven’t traveled long distances. Local allows you to have greater knowledge of how your flowers were raised and supports local business. With the right growers, you can work together to ensure you are getting all those great, strange flowers that are extra special. Nothing conveys specialness than pointing out a flower and telling them about the person who grew it for them. That’s just love and specialness all over the place.
Again, if you’d like to learn more about sustainable floral design practices and all sorts of behind the scenes fun, join our community by subscribing to our email list. Also, if you know of someone else who may think this is helpful, please send it to them!
Design Secrets Revealed! Lola Workshops
Need to refresh your design approach or looking to learn the floral design methods that have made Lola Creative stand out? Come jam with us at one of this spring’s Design + Floral Workshops! Registration is ON by clicking on the workshop you would like to attend. You will be able to order them individually or as a package for more cost savings.
Bold Design Principles for Stand Out Events– Saturday March 7th 2pm to 4:15or Tuesday 10th 3:30 to 5:45pm
This is the core of how we see and our ongoing obsession. The Bold Design Principles Workshop is not your typical floral design theory class. It blends our knowledge of painting approach, sculpture, and landscape design, and melds it with some fascinating science about how the eye makes sense of information. You will leave knowing how to conceptualize any piece, what to focus on for various effects for different situations, and what not to (spoiler alert: IT’S NOT COLOR!!!). You will also get the chance to experiment making floral designs with these new principles in mind. (and you get to take them home). Feel like you never know where to start with your designs. Consider that done! This class is open to students of all experience levels. Click the main image to be transferred to the registration page.
The Gardenesque Bouquet– Saturday March 28th 10am-12:30pm
Lush, textured, and arranged like it was gathered from the side of a sun-swept mountain by a maiden in a flowey skirt; her unicorn’s mane floating with the wind….. sigh. Really though, if you are of the Northwest in reality or in spirit, you will want to know how to make this bouquet. In this hands-on class, we will use 100% local and responsibly grown flowers and foliage for a diverse, lush look. You will learn techniques to make a full look, how to choose plant material, design principles for bouquets, and tips to ensure your bouquet looks as great in photos as in person. This class is open to students of all experience levels. Click the main image to be transferred to the registration page.
The Romantic Compote Centerpiece– Thursday May 7th 2pm-4:30pm
Nothing exudes romance and luxury like an overflowing bowl of fresh flowers and trailing foliage. It’s also one of the most photographed look on wedding and floral blogs. Learn to make this essential piece with sustainable design methods and local, responsibly grown flowers and foliage. Learn techniques to include unexpected elements and live plants. You will take home your own creation. This class is open to students of all experience levels. Click the main image to be transferred to the registration page.
Advanced Designs with Sustainable Methods– Thursday, April 9th 10am-4pm
Thinking about marketing your floral endeavor as a green business but hesitant to make the leap? This advanced class will give you the know-how and confidence to build sculptural pieces without the use of flower foam and source responsibly without sacrificing wow-factor. This is a full day course and includes a local, organic lunch served by the chefs at 21 acres. The hands-on projects include flower walls, tall no-foam centerpieces, cascading bouquets with armatures, moss infrastructures, and a slew of methods and techniques to get your creative juices going. We will also go over green business topics that will include information about materials costs, sample markups, educating your clients, and transporting finished work. Students take home at least a bouquet.
This class is open to advanced students who either have experience in the floral trade or new students who have taken our Design Principles course. Click the main image to be transferred to the registration page.
All classes will take place at 21 Acres in Woodinville Wine Country, a non-profit organization dedicated to promoting sustainable agriculture and building techniques. All class materials and tools are provided including 100% responsibly grown flowers and foliage. Students MUST pre-register for these workshops. Carpooling is encouraged.
I simply cannot WAIT to meet you,
I consider myself and our business to be pretty ecologically considerate. Partly because we love happy organisms (slugs and seaweed are exceptions) but mostly because waste is so unnecessary. Sustainability just makes sense, especially when it comes to floral and garden design.
Composting? duh. Recycling? Um, yeah. Reuse? Why would I buy a material twice when it’s right here staring me down? Local materials, flowers, and plants in season? Yes. Let’s celebrate what we’ve got here. Toxic substances? Hmmmmm. Wellll, seems like a no-brainer, but here’s the thing… they’re so useful.
I’ve recently become aware of a soft spot in my shiny green shell. I’ve been suffering from a self sown affliction called artistic ignorance. This is the state in which adherence to any ecological values is ignored in pursuit of a creative endeavor. It’s the idea that the process of making something new is so exciting and noble that any talk of ecology is a buzz-kill. After all, what about all the useful adhesives, foams, and coatings that could improve our designs? (sigh)
This has been something I’ve allowed myself to believe since I was in art school. Something I keep to myself within the walls of my studio and has made its way with me into the walls of Lola Event Floral & Design. When the part that taps me on the shoulder and says, “Um, hey, isn’t that stuff bad?” (This part of me wears a hand knit sweater and barefoot running shoes.) But, the part of me that likes to make cool stuff belts out, “Why never you mind! We are making something out of imagination and raw materials. We are amazing! Muah ah ah!” (This part of me wears feather eyebrow extensions, a cape, and shiny boots.) Recently however, I’ve found myself having to explain why we use these harsh chemicals to my employees. The more I have to explain it out loud, the less and less it make sense. Like a kid who has fabricated a reality only to feed her own selfish habits. My explanation starts out confident then, as I continue to babble on, my people’s eyebrows furrow, they start giving me the slow blink, and my voice gets weaker. Pretty soon I’m just squeaking out some sort of sheepish response only mildly better than, “Because. So there. Now grab your gloves and respirator.”
The truth is, I haven’t really worked too hard to find better alternatives because the toxic materials that I’ve gotten used to using are so convenient and efficient- my kryptonite. Add to that the ‘everyone else is doing it’, and ‘we are sustainable in other ways’ phrase and you’ve got the number one lame excuse to hold back the pursuit and dispersal of greener technologies.
So, after throwing a full on “I don’t wanna” grown woman tantrum, I’ve concluded that we’ve just got to alter our way of approaching our designs. I don’t want to be in contact with this stuff and neither do my people.
The first and perhaps biggest offender? Floral foam. It’s everywhere. Nearly every floral designer I know uses this stuff, us included. Floral foam is that green squishy, weird substance that holds water and provides a structure in which stems are inserted. It’s such a staple in the industry that it’s accepted as a necessary evil. From a functional standpoint it’s awesome. It’s fast, cheap, and allows for secure delivery and gravity defying creations. Friends, the green foam is grotey. Not only will it stick around in a landfill for all time, it’s full of nasty substances like formaldehyde, and gives factory workers the floral equivalent of black lung. The fumes have been fatal when burned and the dust makes you want to scratch your eyeballs out. At the age of 29 I started to get arthritis in my hands. Coincidence? Maybe not considering how much of this stuff and pesticides I’ve come in contact with.
While this realization was bubbling up, we met Studio Choo out of San Francisco- a chemical free floral design outfit with a great new book out. They don’t use the green monster and are thriving. After speaking with Jill and Alethea in May, we concluded that we should attempt to revise our summer’s events to eliminate green foam. We were pretty happy with our success. In many cases, we feel the looks were better than if we had used foam. As we go into a new season, we’ll be able to approach all our events differently.
We’ll be sharing our exploration with you in the coming weeks but for now, here’s some eye candy from some of this summer’s foam free arrangements!