Nature and our beautiful world has always been incredibly important to me.
I grew up in rural Suffolk, in a tiny village, cycling the lanes and watching the combine harvesters for hours. Animals and the countryside were all around me, and we had spectacular storms and the most incredible snow. I know how lucky I am to have had such a beautiful upbringing with nature on my doorstep. At 16, I self-funded a month long visit to Venezuela in South America, and it is a country I hold very dear to my heart. I cannot begin to tell you the beauty, the wildlife, the waterfalls and the sunsets – it changed me, and my love of the natural world really grew from there.
As a child (and as an adult too), I always wanted to be just like Sir David Attenborough – he is and will always be my hero! In my eyes he had my dream job, travelling the world, experiencing nature first hand and bringing it back to us in our living rooms. His passion, now more than ever, is incredibly inspiring, and I hope people the world over listen to his plea to be part of nature, instead of apart from nature. His current film and his message in ‘A life on our planet’ is hard hitting and sobering, but it vital for us all to see the damage we are doing to our home and all the wildlife around us. His message – it is not too late to change and to reverse the damage, but we must act NOW!
So why am I writing to you today…
I have had a lot of time to reflect and act, and I wanted to give you an insight into how and why I have been working on the sustainability of my business, and making it as green and eco-conscious as possible.
I made a decision back in 2018 to stop using floral foam in my designs, the green base you may see at the bottom of many floral arrangements. At the time I felt it was the right thing to do – I knew it was plastic based, but I had no idea of its consequences. The amazing Charlene Trestrial from RMIT University has just published an award winning study called ‘Foaming at the mouth – floral foam microplastics harm animals health’. It has highlighted the devastating impacts floral foam can have on marine invertebrates and marine ecosystems.
Why does this matter? Charlene has shown that floral foam affects tiny aquatic invertebrates in 3 ways. The first being the phenol present in floral foam – it leaches out causing deformities and death in aquatic animals. The second is the physical presence of foam – the aquatic invertebrates eat the foam and this causes stresses in their stomachs, slow growth and less reproduction. The third shows strong evidence that the phenol and physical presence of foam is causing cell damage.
This ground breaking study has left me and many other florists in no doubt that floral foam is doing irreparable damage to our marine ecosystems from the bottom up. But, this is just one way that we are affecting the natural world around us. Sadly, there are so many more, including the sheer volume of waste we send to landfill every year and the devastating amount of other plastics in our oceans to name just two.
I have spent the last year reducing my reliance on single use plastics and trying to eliminate waste. I am especially proud that the waste from my last wedding of 2020 amounted to just six cable ties. The incredible strength of the wind on the day meant I couldn’t use reusable/releasable ones, otherwise there would have been no waste at all. Less than a handful of items going to landfill, whilst all of the foliage was composted, the flowers dried to use during the winter months or turned into biodegradable petal confetti, and the arch created with reusable moss sausages, which are drying out ready for the next wedding as I type. The flowers and foliage were all grown and cut in Kent, travelling just 75 miles from field to wedding.
This sustainable way of working is my present and my future, a way of celebrating the natural world without causing it further harm, leaving behind as small a footprint as possible, and hopefully a more beautiful world for my daughter and her children. It is my small contribution and I hope my words inspire you to look around you to see what you can do too.