At a time when many parts of the world are suffering with the horrendous effects of climate change, I wanted to share the small ways in which Bud & Bee makes a number of sustainable choices everyday and the climatic impact of the floral industry.
You've probably heard of 'carbon footprints' and you've probably taken steps to improve your own personal or families footprint. Maybe you opt for local fruits and veg from the green grocer or perhaps you switch sockets off at the wall, but in and amongst all of that there is a little grey area that is often overlooked by most people, and that area is flowers. Have you thought about the carbon footprint of your rose bouquet? Let me shed some light on the floral industry. Take a look at your garden, or your neighbours garden. Most of our gardens across the UK are abundant with bare branches minus a few evergreens and possibly the peaking colourful heads of Crocus or nodding Snowdrops. Our mulched flower beds may have the emergence of Daffodils or Narcissus - a sure sign that spring is on its way. Now enter your supermarket, and observe the explosion of colour. You have Roses, Protea, Gerberas and many more flower varieties that wouldn't be in bloom in our gardens yet.
Most of the flowers we see in supermarkets are imported, grown under fossil fuel heated greenhouses of Holland or flown over from the fields of Kenya, sometimes even Columbia or Peru. These flowers are often sprayed with chemical fertilisers and pesticides then cut, packaged in plastic, boxed and shipped to numerous destinations around the world.
In a recent study (full thesis here) a standard SINGLE bouquet of 5 stems of Dutch Roses, 3 stems of Dutch Lily and 3 stems of Kenyan Gypsophila amounted to an astonishing 32.252kg of CO2. In comparison, 15 stems of mixed, outdoor grown flowers, grown and sold locally totalled 1.71kg of CO2. (See FFTF link here) With Valentine's Day just around the corner and a staggering 8 million* stems of fresh cut roses being imported to just the UK alone, it really does make you think about the environmental impact of buying imported flowers. (*based on 2018 figures)
Here at Bud & Bee, I do things a little different to your average florist. I grow a selection of annuals, available April - October generally, which I use in my arrangements before sourcing locally grown flowers direct from other flower farms. I also order from other British companies to keep my carbon footprint as low as possible. My homegrown blooms are grown without the use of man-made pesticides, opting for natural pest control and fertilisers where needed. This is important for pollinators as well as soil health and supporting the microbiome of my soil. Our soil represents one of the most highly diverse ecosystems on our planet with an interacting community of bacteria, archaea, viruses, fungi and protozoa. (I feel another blog post coming on...) I operate a plastic free bouquet system, and any plastic that I do have is reusable or recyclable. I also take in pots and seed trays to reuse and you can message me to find out more information about my reuse, recycle scheme within Woodbridge, Suffolk.
Another big factor of being sustainable is my use of peat-free compost. Peat is created from the decaying remains of plants from more than 12,000 years ago. Mining raised bogs for their peat destroys them. These bogs are home to plant and wildlife species which can only exist in this unique environment. Because of this, many peat bogs are Sites of Special Scientific Interest (SSSIs) and the mining of peat is destroying our natural ecosystems. Peatlands make up just 10% of UK land but they store a lot of carbon – even more than UK forests and therefore they help in the fight against climate change. They can’t perform this vital function if they are degraded. Losing just 5% of UK peatland carbon would be equivalent to the UK’s entire annual greenhouse gas emissions. (Another potential blog post noted down...)
The flowers that are available in Britain are stunning and extremely unique to the generic bunches sold in the supermarkets and I encourage you to try British and try LOCAL blooms this year.