The Floral Debate: Fresh vs Dried Flowers for Sustainability
There’s something so delicate and appealing about a beautiful bouquet of flowers. In fact, receiving a handcrafted arrangement is a love language all on its own!
Whether it’s a bunch of roses from or for a loved one or a weekly arrangement to brighten up your living space, these short-lived cuts have become a multi-billion dollar industry around the world.
That’s great, right? An industry thriving on the beauty of nature's gift of flowers - growing bee-loving, air-purifying flowers must be a sustainable practice?! Actually, the truth behind the floral footprint may shock you.
Join us as we dive into the fresh vs dried flower debate to debunk the impact behind each of these bouquets and discover which option is ideal for your eco-friendly home.
The Footprint of Cut Flowers
Here at Go For Zero, we’re serious lovers of a flower-filled garden. We love the benefits that fresh plants have on our environment (and the bright and beautiful colours are a bonus too!).
Unfortunately, the flowers you purchase from the shops aren’t grown as naturally and beautifully as you may think.
When it comes to turning a profit with floral arrangements, most growers are pouring an incredible amount of resources into those beautiful blooms. To ensure each petal is as pristine as the next, gallons of fresh water and pesticides are used to regulate the growing environment. Once introduced, those pesticides then contaminate our soil and throw off the balance of living organisms that we need to thrive.
In addition to this, many flowers are grown in greenhouses to lengthen the growing season and protect the flowers from insects. In the grand scheme, these flower farms are actually taking a lot more than they give to our planet.
After the large carbon footprint, water use, pesticide pollution, and unfair labour practices used to grow each bloom, the bouquets are then packaged up in soft plastics and shipped thousands of miles to be sold for a pretty penny.
Similar to shipping cleaning products or shampoo bottles full of water, the impact of shipping water-heavy fresh flowers is much higher than dry goods due to weight and space. Of course, shipping fresh flowers without ample water is simply unavoidable.
Upon arrival at the florist, each flower will need to be kept hydrated and refrigerated to ensure they still look fresh and crisp for sale, after all, no one wants to buy half-dead and wilted flowers. This refrigeration and watering schedule continues to add to the carbon footprint even more.
Once the flowers are purchased and the packaging is disposed of, each bouquet will last an average of 7-12 days. In the big picture, this is a pretty short life span for a resource-heavy product. In terms of sustainability, the trade-off is simply not worth it.
Are Dried Flowers More Sustainable?
So are dried flowers the answer for eco-friendly florals?
The growth process of dried flowers is really no different to fresh flowers, however, the difference lies in the shipping, storage, and lifespan of dried flowers vs fresh flowers.
Once grown, dried flowers are hung upside down in dark rooms to drain the water from the stem and ‘preserve’ the flower. Already we can see a massive difference in energy consumption to make these flowers look beautiful. Unfortunately, there are also a number oftoxic chemicals used to harden and preserve the flowers so that they look ‘fresh’ in their dried state, including a plastic coating that is undeniably terrible for our oceans and environment.
Shipping of the dried flowers is then much lighter due to the lack of heavy water, resulting in less fossil fuel consumption for shipping.
The dried flowers won’t need specific storage conditions like refrigeration or humid environments *woo!*. And finally, the bouquets last month after month so the need to repurchase is virtually eliminated. Of course, the cost of these arrangements is typically a bit higher to reflect the long-lasting benefits.
Unfortunately, dried flowers are still pretty energy-intense to grow and contain a substantial amount of pesticides and preservatives that are detrimental to the environment in the long run. However, when comparing the overall impact of fresh vs dried flowers, the benefits of dried flowers are definitely noticeable.
The Sustainable Solution
While purchasing dried flowers may have a lower impact than fresh flowers, neither option is 100% guilt-free when it comes to a carbon footprint. If you’re after a more sustainable option, perhaps house plants and home-grown flowers are your best bet! We also read a great article about how to have a sustainable wedding here, where they discuss flowers, leading wedding waste & more!
House plants have been proven to have a number ofimpressive benefits for the home including improving air quality and reducing the feeling of stress.
When it comes to growing plants sustainably, turn to responsibly sourced seeds such as Sow n Sow seeds. For easy to grow varieties,Urban Green’s Seed Balls are a can’t miss. Both of these options are light and low impact to ship from right here in Australia!
When it comes to water conservation, consider recycling your plant water by catching the runoff from your washing up in a bowl and sharing the goodness with your plants. Want to take it one step further? Recycle old jars for clever pots, or simply grow your flowers in the garden and showcase them inside once they’ve bloomed.
Still love that dried flower look? Drying your own flowers is surprisingly simple! All you need to do is hang them upside down in a dark, dry room with good ventilation. When it comes to creating beautiful works of art, try pressing your pretty petals using the Sow n Sow Flower Press!
Fresh vs Dried Flowers
Now that you know what goes into those pricey bouquets of both fresh and dried flowers, you can make the best choice for your eco-friendly home! Remember, you have the chance to vote with your dollar and support the initiatives you believe in!
We say, bringing nature and beauty into your home should be compromise-free!
Ready to skip the flower industry altogether in favour of your own blooms? Get started in the garden with all the zero-waste essentials you need to succeed!