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Why I Choose to Design without Floral Foam

I was completely foam free in 2019 and am proud of that accomplishment.

There are many reasons why florists are choosing to design without floral foam but the number one reason is because of its environmental impact.

Centerpiece designed without foam, Photographed by Shillawna Ruffner Photography

Floral foam is that green brick that you have most likely seen flowers arranged in. It makes designing simple. Stems stay where you put them, particularly during delivery, and florists can quickly place stems where they want them without fear of things moving out of place.

But, floral foam is also single use plastic. One block of foam is equal to 12 plastic shopping bags. It is not biodegradable. The micro plastics from floral foam, that are often washed down the drain, have been found in marine life. (Since it is being found in marine life, when we eat fish we may also be digesting the micro plastics.) It is formaldehyde based and the box warns against breathing the fumes from the dust the foam creates, especially if pregnant.

It makes some installations easier but is it worth the cost?

Tall arrangement created in water with a chicken wire pillow, Photo by Morgan Williams Photography

Beyond the environmental impact, the flowers are happier in water. I have heard many florists tell customers that the water in your vase should be clean enough that you want to drink it. Clean water=flowers that last longer. Do you want to drink water with green micro plastics in it?

Arches and other large installations are most commonly designed with foam. The arch below was created with chicken wire and zip ties. The chicken wire can be reused. (Zip ties are typically not reused but using an alternative is a 2020 goal for me.) The hydrangeas needed a water source so I used water tubes, which can also be reused.

Foam free arch installation, photographed by Bret and Brandie Photography

Using chicken wire, rolled into a ball to create an armature, in an opaque container is a simple way to design a centerpiece without foam. If chicken wire doesn’t work in a particular container, you can make a grid to hold the stems with tape, branches, or use a “pillow” type mechanic that is currently on the market.

There is a wealth of information about designing without floral foam on the internet. A simple search will result in hundreds of articles. I also recommend these resources:

www.sustainablefloraldesign.com

The Flower Podcast episodes with Shane Connolly and Tobey Nelson.

The instagram account @nofloralfoam

Centerpiece created without floral foam, photographed by Shillawna Ruffner Photography

What can you, as a consumer, do to reduce the use of floral foam? When you order flowers, ask that foam isn’t used. If more people ask, more florists will stop using it.

This is still a controversial subject for some in the industry but things are changing. I am doing my part to help the change.

What are your thoughts on this subject? Is this something you had thought about before reading this post?

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