Shopping Sustainably, Florals Edition

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Here in New York City, there are flower shops—or at least bodegas selling bouquets—on every corner. It’s very easy to pick up some flowers on the way home or before a big date. But this year, we’re trying to upgrade our florals with sustainably and locally sourced bouquets. They’re better for the environment because they don’t have to be flown so far (like from South America, where most of our flowers come from) and they’re in season. Two of our favorite sustainable florists are Farmgirl Flowers in San Francisco and Petal by Pedal in New York City—after all, if you’re shopping seasonally for peak produce, wouldn’t it make sense to shop seasonal for the best florals, too?

We asked Debra Prinzing, founder of American sustainable flower vendors directory Slow Flowers, for tips on shopping for sustainable flowers without breaking the bank:

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Sustainable flowers aren’t necessarily certified or labeled “organic”

“You can buy roses labeled “Eco” from South America, but it had to travel on a jet plane to get here, so that negates any sustainability,” Prinzing explains. There are also local certifications you can look at, though. For example, some farms in California are using a certification called Veriflora, which confirms that a flower farm has good working conditions, has recycling practices, and sustainable growing methods. Floral farms in Washington and Oregon get Salmon-Safe certified, which means they have practices that are safe for the native wild salmon habitat.

Farmer’s markets offer local florals at affordable prices

Your favorite flower vendor at the farmer’s market probably doesn’t have an official certification because the florals are homespun, but they’re still sustainable because they’re locally grown. A lot of eco-friendly boutique florists are, just like other florists, not cheap—but if you’re willing to stop at the farmer’s market and carry your own bouquet, you can buy seasonal florals directly from the farmer.

Shop seasonally, just like you’d shop for groceries

“Because of commercial floristry, there’s a mindset that everything should be available 12 months of the year,” Prinzing says. But like produce, flowers have peak seasons, too. For example, lilacs and peonies only bloom naturally in April or May—perfect for a Mother’s Day bouquet. But if you see peonies or lilacs in November, they’re probably from South America, where the growing season is different. When you shop seasonally for local florals at their peak, you’re also guaranteed that the flowers will last longer because they haven’t traveled thousands of miles and are much fresher.

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