The Slow Flower Movement

The Slow Flower Movement

It’s no secret that the environmental impact of mainstream cut flowers isn’t rosy. One of my first jobs out of college was at a florist shop in Wellington, it was rather short lived. I was new to the whole cut flower industry and a bit naive. I saw a lot of practices that didn't sit right with me then, and still don't. The chemicals, the waste, the plastic, the imports of around 80% of all flowers used, using week-old flowers that should have been compost, and a resistance to do things any differently. That was just the tip of the iceberg too. Always thirsty for info, I did my own research into the industry and was a bit disheartened by my findings. This was also pre-google days, so the information available now, is much more shocking.

I usually stay away from doom and gloom, there's way too much of it out there. I fought the urge to write this blog for ages, but in the end, I think it's important as, awareness is the first step to change. 

Importing flowers

Imported flowers are common in floristry. They meet needs when demand is high, especially on days like Valentines and Mothers Day, and they are usually cheaper for stores. There's also the added bonus of being able to import flowers that won't grow well in the NZ climate.

The downside...

Working conditions - Imported cut flowers can be cheaper, as labour is cheaper in many countries overseas. Without certification, it's hard for us to know the working conditions of every employee who was involved in the growing and harvesting of your imported flowers.

Were there Fairtrade agreements in place? 

Pesticide use - The same can also be said for sprays, pesticides, herbicides and preservatives that extend the life of blooms travelling from overseas. NZ has strict regulations on imports of cut flowers to prevent pests and diseases entering our fragile ecosystem. It is then no surprise that imported flowers and foliage need to go through testing, fumigation and devitalisation (where stems are immersed in a glyphosate solution for 20mins or more to stop the propagation of the plant after import*). Wait? What?!

What chemicals were sprayed onto your cut flowers before entering NZ? What chemicals were used upon entering NZ? 

Carbon footprint - The transportation of cut flowers creates a huge carbon footprint. Air travel from the major exporters, India, Columbia, Holland, etc., creates huge emissions. The same imported cut flowers also need refrigeration to prevent wilting during their long travel from overseas. Most refrigerated container systems emit HFCs, which are known to be more potent than CO2 at warming the atmosphere.

How far have my blooms travelled to get here? What is their carbon footprint?

The Slow Flower Movement

Photo - The Wildstyler Flower Cart - Levin

People are waking up to the consequences of their shopping habits. They are becoming more conscious about where their goods come from, how they are grown and the effect it all has on the planet. I want to be part of the change, part of the Slow Flower Movement, where there is a more sustainable, ethical way to grow, and purchase blooms - if you want it. Where the carbon footprint is tiny - locally grown, small scale, seasonal blooms from garden-to-vase. Where the blooms are grown sustainably and the focus is not on quantity at any cost, but quality, and not just flower quality. This movement supports the environment through practices like composting, crop rotations etc,. to help rebuild our valuable top soil quality, which has been decimated through years of terrible agricultural practices*. It supports the environment by growing flowers without the use of synthetic pesticides, herbicides and fertilisers. A system that is beneficial to the planet, to us and to our beneficial pollinators. 

The Slow Flower Movement is a step back to sustainable living. Garden-to-vase. A reminder that bigger, isn't always better. A timely reminder to me as it becomes closer to open The Wildstyler doors. It puts things in perspective. You should know where your bouquet came from and how far it travelled to get to you. You should know if your bouquet was ethically and sustainably produced. You should know that your bouquet is safe-to-sniff. You should know how much waste has been produced through the production of your bouquet. You should know the environmental impacts that your purchase has had on the planet - from seed to bouquet.

The information is always there, if you want to ask the questions.

How far have the flowers that make my bouquet travelled?

Are my cut flowers produced ethically and sustainably?

What sprays/pesticides/herbicides/preservatives have been used on my blooms? Are they harmful to me? Are they harmful to the environment?

How much waste will be produced by my bouquet? Can everything be composted? Are there plastic wraps? Un-compostable bouquet paper?

Ask the questions. There are PLENTY of flower growers (big and small) around New Zealand who can tell you what's in, and on, their cut flowers. There are also plenty of New Zealand florists who only use NZ sourced flowers and foliage or, at least, have a locally-grown option available along side their other products. There are florists and growers who will tell you the origins of the flowers they use, leaving you to make an informed decision, a conscious choice. 

I'm not telling anyone how to spend their money or how to run their own businesses. You do you. My bouquets won't be for everyone and I know that. They'll most likely be informal and, every now and then, there may possibly be little greeblies hiding in the foliage as I don't use chemical sprays. I don't have all the answers and I'm not perfect. I'd love to do local deliveries on a bike or in an electric car. I also have some dahlia that came from NZ suppliers but the tubers were imported here from Holland. But I am trying and I hope every year gets better. I'm trying to do my best for this planet - one bouquet at a time. I'm trying to provide options for people who are becoming more aware about their buying habits and how they affect the whole. I want to be a part of the change. I want to create a conscious business that I'm proud of. A sustainable, transparent, small business ,that benefits the planet and our own health - mental, physical, emotional, spiritual, the lot! I want to be part of business that brings joy and good vibes, through flowers grown with love, care and attention. I wanna (as Matthew McConaughey says), "Just Keep Livin'".

Follow along on my floral journey (social links at the bottom of the page). I can tell you now, it's gonna be a little bit Wild, a little bit Style, and a lot entertaining. 

Kristy x  

Links below to a bit of extra info... but beware, there are some grim facts in there.




Just Keep Livin'

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