Earth Day has come and gone! But since the day has grown into a month-long sustainability awareness campaign, we will continue to use Earth Month as a platform to encourage sustainable product solutions.
In part two, we move away from sustainable changes in floral supplies to focus on the positive changes happening in the Cut Flowers side of our business and industry.
Part 2 – #FSLiving Earth Month Journal Series, Fresh Cut Flowers
Let’s explore some of the changes Laurie Nesbitt, President and COO, and Tyler Paterson, Director of Cut Flowers, have seen in the fresh industry over the past three decades.
Much like the sustainable changes we saw with floral supplies, Cut Flowers has also seen a call for more eco-friendly and socio-economical responsibility at all levels of the industry. These calls have seen the creation of organizations whose purpose is to both give certification to farms that conduct business responsibly and prompt businesses to improve processes to reduce their environmental impact.
With that in mind, follow along for some sustainable changes in Cut Flowers!
Positive Changes in the Floral Supply Chain
- Local Flowers: There has been a shift to sourcing locally grown flowers where and whenever possible to cut down on our carbon footprint. At Florists Supply, all five of our branches source local flowers, as 46% come from Canada and the United States. Our feasibility of supplying locally grown flowers depends on the ability of domestic farms to meet market demand and the customers’ willingness to pay the higher price point.
- Shipping Improvements: Today, flower farms around the world do a better job at maximizing space inside shipping boxes compared to years past. This reduces the overall cubic space required to ship flowers, lowering the number of planes and trucks needed to move product.
- Farm Composting: Composting cuts down on the amount of waste sent to landfills, which lessens the ethylene gas produced by those landfills. This has become a regular practice at most farms, along with water conservation (lagoons collecting rainwater) and organic pest control implementation (using crop-friendly insects to combat harmful ones).
- Flower Packaging: Flower exporters have also made strides with changing from bleached to kraft boxes and have reduced the amount of packing materials used wherever feasible. When possible, packaging has been moving away from plastics toward cardboard or compostable plastics.
Sustainable and Socio-Economic Flower Labels
- Asocolflores: Flower growers around the world have adopted sustainable practices. For example, in Colombia the Association of Flower Exporters (Asocolflores) follows its “Road to Sustainability” program. Some of the improvements noted on Asocolflores’ website include:
“Asocolflores has been working on initiatives that positively impact the environment. In the last five years, it has managed to reduce energy consumption by 61%, and 44% of the water used by floriculture companies comes from rainwater. Additionally, and thanks to constant monitoring, chemical pesticide use has been reduced to 43%.”
You can learn more about asocolflores here: https://asocolflores.org/en/sustainability/
- Fairtrade Flowers: Florists Supply became a Fairtrade partner in 2014. When Florists Supply sells fairtrade flowers, a portion of the proceeds are dedicated to enhancing working conditions and benefits for employees on those Fairtrade flower farms. Fairtrade initiatives include:
“Empowering producers and protecting the planet through sustainable trade. Whether it’s taking action to improve incomes, training farmers to be more resilient to climate change, or enabling communities to invest in education, Fairtrade empowers farmers and workers to face a range of economic, environmental, and social challenges.”
You can read more about Fairtrade here: www.floristssupply.com/fresh-flowers/fairtrade-flowers
- Florecuador: A network of producers, traders, and flower enthusiasts whose goal is to ensure sustainability in the flower industry through transparency, trust, and responsibility. They strive to define responsibility for the growing and trading of flowers:
“Sustainability is a way of life and management that includes the protection of the environment, the preservation of biodiversity, low consumption of resources, and equitable distribution of wealth. It aims to secure a dignified life on earth for today’s and future generations. In the cultivation of and trade with flowers and plants, this obliges all participants in the value chain to deal with resources and the environment with prudence and care, to expand the economic power of the companies and to ensure social justice for the employees. These objectives should be pursued simultaneously and in a balanced way in a process of continuous improvement.”
You can learn more about Flor Ecuador here: www.flower-republic.com
- Rainforest Alliance: A non-profit organization that certifies sustainable and socio-economical farms. Their goal is to build an alliance to protect forests, promote farmers’ human rights, and help them adapt to climate change. Their Mission and Vision:
“We envision a world where people and nature thrive in harmony.
The Rainforest Alliance is creating a more sustainable world by using social and market forces to protect nature and improve the lives of farmers and forest communities.”
You can learn more about the Rainforest Alliance here: www.rainforest-alliance.org
At Florists Supply, we aim to use local, social, and environmental certified farms. Your support in shopping these products, and talking to consumers about sustainable label certification, can help us and the industry promote and strengthen this initiative. It takes all of us working together to create a better planet.
Repurposing and Composting Older Flowers
- Repurposing Older Flowers: At Florists Supply, we repurpose flowers that are past acceptable market dates. An example of this includes an exchange program we have with Amber Meadow’s retirement home in Winnipeg. We provide flowers so that residents can participate in floral design activities and enjoy the flowers within their living space. In return, Amber Meadow’s kitchen sends us homemade food for our Winnipeg staff every second Friday.
- Composting Older Flowers: We utilize compost services in our cities when we cannot repurpose our older flowers. All branches compost older flowers with the exception of Winnipeg. Our Winnipeg branch is exploring options for independent compost service providers as this is not a service currently offered to businesses by the City of Winnipeg.
That wraps up our update on sustainable changes in both the Supplies and Cut Flowers sides of our industry. Stay tuned for part three, which will focus on initiatives implemented in Florists Supply’s day-to-day operations! #FSLiving