Sustainability News: April 2024 - British Florist Association

Sustainability News: April 2024

Courses to help your business become more sustainable

It can be a minefield to know where to start or what advice to take so for this newsletter we wanted to start off by covering a few of the courses which might be of interest to you. Each one can offer a different kind of learning experience and give you an appreciation of what might be achievable for you and your business.

1. The Sustainability CPD course from the Sustainable Floristry Network.

We asked Rita, the founder of SFN, a few questions about their course

Can you tell us what drove you to take on this project?

I’ve always had a love of nature, biology and art, but pursuing the SFN stemmed from a combination of extensive floristry experience and the right academic qualifications to create the education piece the industry needs. Also, I’ve worked with hundreds of florists as co-workers or employees, so I get florists!

What do you hope florists will learn from the course?

The Foundation in Sustainable Floristry training course was created to help florists make better decisions about the flowers and products they use and the way they run their design and business practices. That sounds a bit abstract and clinical, but when you think about the hundreds of decisions we make every day, having a core set of evidence-based principles to return to is useful.

We focus on the environmental issues — understanding life-cycles and reducing our impacts — but we also look at the social and business cases too. The best feedback from students is that they regularly report feeling inspired to run their business in a more sustainable way and can see how they can fit in the big picture of industry change.

The course takes a look at what’s involved with growing and transporting flowers and teaches florists how to identify flowers with a high/low carbon footprint.

How many years has it taken you to put together?

It took three and a half years to research, write and film the course. When the COVID lockdowns kicked in, I used this time as an opportunity to get stuck into research and start to make connections with people from all over the world who were pursuing the same goals of linking sustainability to floristry.

The greatest inspiration for developing the course came from our connection with Professor David Bek and Dr Jill Timms from the Sustainable Cut Flowers Project. When they agreed to collaborate with us, things really started to fall into place.

Top row from left: Foundation in Sustainable Floristry features interviews with Professor David Bek (Coventry University) and Dr Jill Timms (University of Surrey), both co-leads of the Sustainable Cut Flowers Project; and Dr Charlene Trestrail, water pollution/floral foam researcher, Australia.

Bottom Row: SFN course contributors Rita Feldmann and communications specialist Ginger Briggs; and Jo Thompson, sustainability educator, florist, flower farmer and education officer for the course.

How do Florists access the course?

Foundation in Sustainable Floristry is the first course in an education and membership program we plan to run until 2030 to support emissions targets and the Sustainable Development Goals. To make sure it is as accessible as possible (and keep our emissions as low as possible!), the program is delivered entirely online. Florists can find links through our website.

In your opinion which is the best substitute for single use floral foam on the market at the moment?

From the perspective of single-use manufactured products and funerals, the advice we have received so far suggests that the OshunPouch coming out of the United States satisfies the environmental requirements/circular economy objectives best, as the bioplastic membrane is certified home-compostable and the majority of the product is coconut coir. This means that it is likely to completely break down if buried with the casket (as happens here in Australia) or if left to decompose on top of a grave or in a garden compost.

2. MSc in Sustainability and Management Course

Hannah Dunne has worked in floriculture marketing and news for many years and has recently focused her career and work towards sustainability. We asked Hannah to explain what her course was like and what it’s helped her to achieve.

  • What course have you completed?
    I completed an MSc in Sustainability and Management at Royal Holloway University. There are similar MSc and BSc courses at many other UK universities – including Coventry University and University of Surrey where academics David Bek and Jill Timms are specialising in sustainable floriculture.
  • What kind of content was covered?
    It was an interdisciplinary course taught jointly by the departments of Geography and Management, which meant it included a mix of environmental and social sustainability, combined with business and corporate social responsibility. The course itself did not include content on the flower industry, but I was able to focus on flowers in every assignment except one: I did about six projects on flowers, and one on tuna! It was also refreshing and valuable to get a wider view of issues outside of the flower industry.

    Module topics included justice, development, and sustainability which covered challenges at micro and macro levels; business ethics and social entrepreneurship which examined case studies of different organisations; strategy and sustainable supply chains which included practical concepts from circularity to supplier localisation; and global futures which took a philosophical view on issues faced by the world including climate change, political division, and technological revolutions. A module on methods included practical training on how to research with good ethics and minimised bias. There were also independent projects including my dissertation – which looked at how sustainability issues are prioritised in floriculture value chains.
  • How long did the course take and what was the workload like?
    It takes two years part-time, or one year full-time – which is the same for most MSc courses. Doing it part-time, I had roughly one lecture per week, plus reading and study time. I won’t lie: it’s a challenge to juggle study at the same time as full-time work or whilst self-employed. I was in a privileged position to have flexibility with work and supportive clients. I gave up weekends for essay deadlines; the dissertation period was the hardest. A small group of us were studying while working – we bonded over our shared workload, and we all made it through!
  • How has this course helped you in your career and can you see it being of use to a working florist?
    Without a doubt it has changed the course of my career and has hugely widened my scope of knowledge and capacity for deep thinking. For working florists, it won’t provide practical tips for making sustainable floral designs – there are other great courses offering that, which are important as well. But if you’re thinking of studying to learn about the ‘why’ behind sustainable business, I’d recommend it. It was a big step, both in time and investment, so if you’re looking to do it on a smaller scale I think there are similar short courses at universities and colleges both online and across the UK.

3. The Floristry School at Sheffield College

If you’re looking for a ‘lighter bite’ and just want to dip your toe into making your business more sustainable, then there are also one day course such as this one detailed below which can help you to get into the right mindset to start your journey off.

During this one-day class ‘green principles’ within the floristry industry will be discussed and each student will analyse what sustainability means to their business.  Students explore how to apply these principles in the floristry profession and how to communicate the three primary components of green design to their customers.

All students will have the opportunity to develop a Sustainability Policy and ongoing strategy (EMS) which can be communicated both internally and externally, working towards reducing and eliminating the negative environmental impacts of their working practices through waste management, water management, buying decisions, energy use and employee and customer engagement.

Floral designs will be discussed, demonstrated, and developed using both biodegradable and sustainably products for a range of commercial designs, including tribute designs, gift work and wedding and event work.

The aim of the course is to raise awareness of the issues facing our industry and look at ways floristry businesses can a support our wonderful planet for future generations.

4. TQUK Level 2 Certificate in Understanding Environmental Sustainability

Free on-line course which is offered at several further education colleges throughout the UK currently – google your local college to see if they are offering this course.

There are 6 on-line units to complete:

  • Principles of sustainable development
  • Principles of sustainable communities
  • Principles of sustainable energy management
  • Social responsibility of business in relation to sustainability
  • Principles of waste management
  • Principles of sustainable transport

This course can help individuals and businesses gain a greater understanding of environmental sustainability and to look at the carbon footprints of a business and ways which this can be reduced.


Plastics, Packaging and Waste in the UK cut-flower industry

Our members often express concern about the environmental impact of plastic cellophane wraps around flowers. The good news there are a lot of things going on:

  • A working group within the UK focusing on Plastics, Packaging and Waste in the UK cut-flower industry is being convened by Professor David Bek, Coventry University and Dr. Jill Timms, Surrey University as part of the work of the Sustainable Cut-Flowers project. This will initially focus on producing guidance to help people understand how to make sustainable choices in relation to plastics, packaging and waste management in their businesses. In addition, further research will be commissioned to develop knowledge and help the UK flower industry to be leaders in offering truly sustainable ways of managing flowers. If you would like further information then please visit: https://sustainableflowers.coventry.domains/ and if you are interested in contributing to the work of the group then please contact David.Bek@coventry.ac.uk
  • The members of Florint (World Floriculture Association) are currently meeting and discussing best practices in all countries creating a global network for information sharing. Through these meetings software has been developed to help florists realise their own impact which we hope will be available soon. Over the next few months we do hope to be testing this in the UK.
  • At the BFA Industry meeting in London the issue of recycling and waste management was highlighted to Sir Chris Bryant who is the shadow minister for creative industries. He indicated that this was being discussed and had been noted as an issue. The BFA will keep this topic in our conversations with government.

Some Summer Tips from Julie Collins

As Julie leaves her position as Sustainability Officer for the BFA she wanted to share some tips which might be useful as we head into summer and wedding season gears up. If you have a plan in place to help with those designs you wish were a little more sustainable, It will be easier to switch when it comes to those busy times. Here are couple of designs made by Julie with her explanation of their benefits.

If you are looking to reduce wire and taping you could look at this idea.
Binding the Alice band in naturally dyed wool and sealing the flower stems with a small dot of wax. Bind the stems onto the Alice band with wool as you work. This means that after the wedding day, the customer can cut off the flowers and place them in the garden compost. The wool can be repurposed for tying plants and the customer can either reuse or return the Alice band to the shop.
If you are a Bouquet holder lover try practicing with a trailing hand tied instead.
This natural design can then be placed straight into the compost bin. If the design requires more structure, then create a moss ball as a water source. You will find that a lot of the stems will go into the moss easily and stay firm. Some of the heavier flowers will need support wiring into the moss, but they do not need to be taped. You can also send a ‘How to dispose of your bouquet’ instruction with the flowers or in email discussions with your couples.

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