We are in a time throughout history where more than ever we are cognizant and concerned about being sustainable and environmentally friendly. When finding new ways to look at more floristry sustainable practices, being aware of what is out there is the first step. Even as a bride or groom, knowing what to ask your florist and what they are using is a small way to make a more sustainable and eco-friendly choice. Floral foam is one of the easiest and first things that can be changed to switch to more sustainable floristry.
Floral foam, or the brand-named Oasis, is a foam made from petroleum and plastic (a form of phenol-formaldehyde resin) that when wet can hold flowers in an arrangement with a water source. It was invented in the 1950s and is still used today. Although it is very useful for florists to use with it being able to be easily customizable and hold even the tiniest stems upright, it is a form of plastic that does not fully break down.
We as florists can look behind us to what we used to use for arrangements before floral foam and Oasis became the staple, to create more sustainable practices, as well as new innovations that have created new eco friendly products.
Moss is natural and it being dense will absorb and hold water. You can use moss with wire and twine to create bricks that you would use as you would floral foam bricks. Moss is also reusable if you dry it out thoroughly as it is a natural sterilizer. It can also be composted and is biodegradable. By putting in a little extra work, you can have a great alternative to floral foam.
2. Pin Frogs
Pin Frogs or kenzan, are usually metal discs with pins that sit at the bottom of your vase or vessel. You can also get them as little cups with pins that hold water as its own vessel. The point of the pin frog is for the pins to open the base of a flower and help it drink water easily. The pin frogs also allow the flowers to stay in place and are used in the Japanese flower art known as Ikebana. The pin frog is reusable and biodegradable when you consider it becomes corroded and breaks down. Using a bit of floral clay at the base of the pin frog will ensure it does not move.
3. Chicken Wire and Tape
Chicken wire is definitely in most florists’ toolbox, and if not, it should be. It is flexible and can be molded and cut down to virtually any shape. You can use it with moss to create bricks and solid pieces for arrangements. But also, using chicken wire and tape for straight to water arrangements, is one of the most cost effective options for floral foam alternatives. By crumpling up the chicken wire and placing it into your desired vessel and securing it with tape, you will have a simple, easy structure to arrange your flowers in. It is also quite user friendly and eco-friendly as it can be reused and reshaped.
TerraBrick Floral Media
This is a fairly new product on the market, and is an expandable floral pouch. Like floral foam, you soak it in water and it becomes a water source for flowers in arrangements by sticking flowers in it. However, unlike floral foam, it is made from 100% natural and organic coir based products. Cori is the fiber from the outer husk of a coconut. OshunPouch is also home compostable and biodegradable. The OshunPouch, however, only comes in one size and can not be cut down like traditional floral foam.
TerraBrick comes from the Oasis brand. It is made with plant-based natural coir (which is the fiber from the outer husk of a coconut) and is compostable. It can be re-watered and has good water absorption. They look like little dirt bricks and can be cut to different sizes to fit vases. You would use the TerraBricks like floral foam and use it as a water source for your flower arrangements. The TerraBricks can also be used in arch arrangements and centerpieces.
6. AgraWool Foam
AgraWool or sideau is made from basalt wool with plant-based binders. It is biodegradable and comes in bricks like plastic floral foam. The agra-wool bricks can be used as a water source for arrangements. It can be a bit harder to work with than traditional floral foam as the stems don’t always go in as smoothly, but poking a hole in first for stems may be an easy option. AgraWool also comes in several different shapes and sizes like traditional floral foam.
Switching over to more sustainable options, especially when it comes to floral foam, is better than just wanting to green-wash what you do. Finding and working with alternative methods to floral foam may be a bit more time consuming and fiddly, but making sure we leave the earth better than we found it is important, especially working in a field such as floristry.
We don’t need to idolize the past, but looking to old practices and modernizing them to the present day and relying on our own creativity to help with a more environmentally friendly way of working.
Cultivated, The Elements of Floral Style; Geall, Christin 2020
www.thinkgreener.com; 8 Eco-Friendly Alternatives to Floral Foam
www.flowermag.com; A Guide to Floral Foam Alternatives; Silva, Brenda
www.londonflowerschool.com; The World Before Floral Foam;