Green Clean Ups
At the end of every event, there's a mad dash to blow out candles, remove centerpieces, and sweep up the floors so that the venue can turn off the lights and lock the doors. This means we're usually throwing everything in trash bags and boxes as quickly as possible. The mix tends to be a combination of flowers, chicken wire, zip ties, ribbon, pins, tape, and other odds and ends. It would be easiest to throw this whole bag in the dumpster, but we never do this. We take all our trash from our events back to the studio and sort it into 4 categories: reusable, recyclable, compostable, and trash.
Reusable items are any hard goods from vases to the pins in the bouquet. All of those items get separated, cleaned, and disinfected to be used again. While this may seem obvious with bigger, more expensive items like vases and lanterns, it is by no means the standard with smaller items like votive candles and chicken wire. Those are inexpensive, and it is easier and far less time consuming to simply replace them. But even though, the cost-benefit analysis doesn't justify cleaning the wax out of tea lights or washing and pressing silk ribbons, we do this despite how time consuming it is because the more items we can reuse, the fewer new items we need to buy. And the fewer items we need to buy, the less resources we're pulling from the world.
Recyclable items are generally the same for us as they are for everyone else, but sometimes we think a bit out of the (cardboard) box and find additional ways to recycle! For example, the soft plastic that each bunch of flowers comes wrapped in can be recycled in the same drop off bins that your plastic grocery bags can be. Many flowers from the flower market or farmer's market come wrapped in paper, which can be used as packaging first, and then recycled. And the wooden bobbins that our silk ribbon comes on can even be sent back to the ribbon maker!
Compostable items are any organic matter or natural materials. This includes not only our flowers but also our ribbons (100% silk and plant dyed), the manila rope we use to hang installations, and the twine we used for garlands and decorating our arch. We try to use as many natural materials that will biodegrade as possible.
Local Flower Farms
Flowers, like our food, have become a global affair. Many are grown near the Equator in Central & South America where there is an abundance of sunshine and inexpensive labor, but by no means is that the only place jet fuel is being expended to bring flowers to us. Specialty varieties bred in Japan, peonies in August from Alaska, exotic protea from Australia, and to this day there are flowers still flown from around the world to Holland to be auctioned there before then flying again to their final destination.
While the flower industry will probably never return to being completely locally grown (and would we really want to give up those Japanese ranunculus?!), we greatly reduce our carbon footprint by sourcing locally as much as possible. In addition, we support our local community farmers and their employees. And fortunately, the local flower industry is only getting better as the "slow flowers" movement gains in popularity among wholesalers, retailers, and designers. American flower farmers are offering a brilliant variety of types and colors. You can find something locally that works with every wedding palette.
Some of our favorite local farms are River Garden and Tiny Hearts (see their amazing poppies just to the left!), but we're always on the lookout for others. If you're a farm in New York or New Jersey that sells flowers directly to designers or you know of one, please send us a message. We would love to hear from you!
Eliminating Plastic & Foam
One of the largest issues facing our world is the excess of plastic. It's petroleum based and contributes to the production of CO2. It doesn't biodegrade, filling landfills and creating floating islands in the ocean. And we now know it breaks down into microscopic pieces that infiltrate our water and soil.
Floral foam is one of the big contributors to plastic waste in the industry, but it is not the only one. From the plastic sleeves flowers come in to the plastic zip ties used for installations, there are many ways single-use plastic creeps into our day to day work.
At Three Notch Florals, we try to remain conscious of each time we can choose an alternative to single-use plastic. Instead of ribbon made of artificial fabric, we use 100% silk ribbon. Instead of plastic sheets for protecting the ground, we use reusable tarps. Instead of zip ties, we are moving to yarn and twine for our arches. And, like many other wonderful florists, instead of floral foam, we use chicken wire, water tubes, and product that can last without water. Our goal is not only to stop using floral foam, but to also produce events without any single-use plastic.
This arch was made without floral foam, only water tubes and privet branches. But there's room for improvement because we still used zip ties.