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Floral Foam - Not so Green!

Did you know that floral foam is full of plastic and chemicals that ends up in landfill leaking toxic fumes and polluting our water systems?

When I trained as a florist, floral foam was very much out of fashion and was seen as the cheats way of arranging flowers. Somehow, it’s crept back into regular use and can be found everywhere, at weddings, large events and in small arrangements at the supermarket. Because it holds water and is sturdy, it is used as a way of making flowers last longer as well as giving them structure and support. I am proud to say, I have rarely used it and now I know how damaging it is for the environment and for our health, I will never touch it again.

Floral foam is a form of plastic created by reacting phenol and formaldehyde and injecting this with air to create the foam. Detergents are then used to create the foam’s absorbency. It is not biodegradable and it is full of chemicals making it essentially a carcinogen. It not only ends up not breaking down in landfill and leaking toxic fumes into the atmosphere but it often slips into the water system. Tiny particles disappear down the sink after the bricks are soaked. These tiny particles go on to add to the pollution of our water ways and can be ingested by fish and other organisms. When dry, tiny floral breaks down into dust which is harmful to the skin and the respiratory system.

There are so many other ways to arrange flowers without using floral foam. All of the flower arrangements for Meghan and Harry’s wedding were created without using it.

It really is horrendous stuff so here are my tips to avoid using it:

  • To give flowers support in a tricky vase or to give structure and support to a table centre, make a frame using chicken wire. Cut a section of wire and roll it into a ball. Insert this into your vase, bowl or urn and poke the stems though the holes. If the vessel you are using is transparent, insert a large leaf into the water and push around the side of the vase to hide the chicken wire.

  • For Christmas wreaths, make your own frame using woody vines or pliable branches such as willow, wisteria, vine, trailing ivy or olive. See my blog on how to make a wreath base. Otherwise, opt for a pre-made straw wreath and re-use it every year.

  • For a floral gift that will last, make a posy and place it into a jam jar half-filled with water. Decorate the jar with a pretty bow or raffia.

So as we head towards Christmas, I’m going to find ways to help us all stay safe, eco-friendly and environmentally responsible as possible.


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