It’s currently one of our time’s biggest issues, and for many, it’s a gloomy prospect to think that climate change and sustainability will be top of our agenda forever. However, there are several ways that every florist business can turn their fear of “sustainability” and “ethical practices” on its head and make meaningful positive changes. These will have a positive impact on profitability as well as our planet, regardless of how mainstream your target market or how narrow your margins may be.  

In floristry, the word “sustainable” can open a number of very different issues and questions, from plastic pollution and airfreight carbon emissions to working conditions at flower farms in developing countries and agrochemicals.  This means florists in Britain can promote a sustainable story through more ways than you may have thought, whether it’s using biodegradable wrapping, off-setting your carbon footprint, or using certified imported blooms that have been grown with fewer emissions while improving the livelihoods of people in need or selling homegrown flowers.  

“As with other ethical decisions, different consumers have varying priorities”, explains Dr Jill Timms from Coventry University, whose research into ethical consumerism within the UK flower industry has recently been shortlisted for an award adds, “Some customers will be willing to pay more for flowers they can have assurances from, particularly if they’re purchasing for a special occasion – such as for a wedding or a gift, where they don’t want to use flowers that could be tainted by any negative impact on people or planet.”


Having interviewed florists throughout the UK, Dr Timms has discovered an emerging awareness of these issues amongst florist businesses and their customers. She explains, “This certainly doesn’t include all florists; however, a sea-change is resulting from growing public interest into issues like this – particularly true of younger generations.”

A leading wedding website, Bridebook, stated that 39% of couples now consider sustainability when organising their wedding. Luckily, the industry’s Instagram influencers are helping to lead the way by showcasing a natural style that can be achieved with homegrown blooms, unusual textures and expressive shapes. Princess Eugenie reportedly requested a “plastic-free” wedding which Timms’ research suggests clarifies that the demand for “ethical weddings” has grown.  


On occasion, these styles and messages are labelled niche & elitist; unappealing to a mass market and only targeting certain groups of environmentally conscious consumers. In this instance, even the most mainstream retailers are pledging their commitment to change with major brands such as Waitrose’s British-grown bouquet range & Sainsbury’s promotion of Fairtrade Roses.  

Many of us are well aware of the likely murky supply chains involved in the production of coffee, sugar & bananas, so Fairtrade labelling on these items have become mainstream in most of our supermarkets already. Timms believe this is very much the future for flowers, too; “As with bananas, I see a time when people will expect to see an option to buy fair trade flower products in an ethical way,” she explains.

While there is a clearly identifiable profile of people who already seek to purchase sustainable produce, it does appear to be widening to include new groups. “We see the impact of TV documentaries & media reports on the flower industry, as well as a wider awareness of climate change, meaning more of the mass market is asking questions,” says Timms. “For example, I know there is a growing interest for alternatives to floral foam and just like people are getting used to taking their own mug with them when they buy a coffee, more are starting to bring their own vases for flowers.”


If so many people around the country are seeking flowers with some sort of sustainable status, why do many florists claim margins are too tight to make the necessary changes? It’s an understandable concern but one that is contradicted by an increasing number of high-street florist businesses & online florists who are gaining an extremely loyal following by making a commitment to sustainability.  

No one is asking you to become an Insta-famous London event florist that specialises in sustainable weddings, but rather to educate your customers on what is available and make some small, meaningful adjustments that work towards more sustainable practices. Here are just a few quick ideas to help your flower delivery become more sustainable:

  • By wrapping bouquets in home compostable, recyclable tissue and paper and binding using twine, you can achieve a luxury product with little or no additional investment.  
  • Consider not adding an aqua pack (or water bubble, as some call it) to your bouquets. This will allow you to leave the stems longer, which will give the customer more flexibility at home to arrange them as they wish. In fact, by leaving the stems longer, the bouquet will often look bigger, enhancing the perceived value of your product which is particularly important on more cost-effective bouquets. 
  • Traditional funeral work can be harder to reproduce without OASIS floral foam; however, using a base of fresh moss can provide a valuable water source and offer a new take on otherwise classic designs. 
  • Many courier companies are adopting bio-fuel fleets or using eclectic vehicles. Send flowers online with a courier company that has its own environmental policy; by doing so you will be strengthening your offering.


Buying seasonally is one of the quickest ways to make a small yet meaningful change when arranging a flower delivery. Seasonal blooms are more likely to have been grown locally without the need for harmful chemicals in high-energy consuming greenhouses and will often be cheaper during their peak flowering period. As anyone who has ever tried to source peonies for a late summer bride will know, buying flowers out-of-season comes at a price! 

Some florists find offering a flexible “florist’s choice” bouquet is the simplest way to guarantee customers receive the finest quality flowers because they will always use whatever variety is “Best in Bloom” that week. It also leaves a little room for creativity when you haven’t promised a particular flower variety.  

Flowers can easily possess sustainable qualities without needing to cost more; this could be Kenyan roses with a high social impact or British stocks with a low carbon footprint. Timms clarifies, “This is obvious with locally grown flowers, but florists are actually likely to already be selling many certified flowers without even realising it.”

“Armed with a basic knowledge of the issues and certifications”, such as logos like Fairtrade and MPS, “florists could start to recognise the certification on the boxes they unpack their flowers from and become able to discuss the origin with customers,” she explains. Research from various retail sectors shows that customers are becoming increasingly conscious of the provenance of their products. By understanding the certificates applied to flowers, for example, knowing that a Colombian flower farm helped to fund a local school, you can find a new unique selling point to share in-store & online with your audience. This will also make for an engaging story online to help grow your customer base.  


Once you’ve worked out your own sustainability pledge, there are an abundance of ways in which you can promote your newfound company values with your customers. Perhaps you want to focus on all (or just one!) of the options we’ve captured.   With some research and creative thinking, local florists are discovering so many small ways that their businesses can be more mindful of our planet and the materials we are using on a daily basis.   By sharing your story, the ethical origins of your products and your sustainable practices through social media, your website, your blog or in-store, you will create a relationship with your customers that will breed loyalty and create positive change in your area. Every florist is different; we have different styles, different attitudes to design and different brand messages; however, what we all have in common is the fact that we can all find ways to make more successful, ethical floral choices. If we can all become more mindful of the need for enhanced sustainability, the floristry industry will become a stronger force, and environmentally conscious choices will reduce in price, making them more accessible to all.  


  • It’s not just about buying British or going entirely plastic-free; there are a whole range of options such as stocking imported flowers that are branded with sustainable certificates. Sure, there are air miles involved in buying these blooms, but your flowers may well be supporting worker welfare in a developing country. Equally, these flowers make the best use of tropical climates to produce excellent quality flowers with fewer chemicals and greenhouse emissions during the cultivation process.  
  • Consumers are actively seeking sustainable options through increased awareness of the importance of considering the provenance of their products
  • Ethical weddings are a growing trend with many celebrities and members of royalty actively requesting sustainable solutions 
  • Large supermarkets and brands are pledging support to adopt sustainable flower schemes
  • Our future customers, the younger generation, are particularly concerned with making ethical choices and buying ethically sourced products.  
  • Making small adjustments to your designs and using sustainable materials can lead to a more stylish product with a higher perceived value 
  • People are starting to bring their vases and pots into the local florist to reduce packaging 
  • Customers don’t know they can ask for it until you educate them – show them the sustainable alternatives, and you may be surprised how often they will select it
  • There are a number of sustainable alternatives available on the market already 
  • Offer a “florist’s choice” bouquet which means you will be able to select the best flowers in bloom right now. This will result in a seasonal, original design that will be bursting with quality for a great price.  
  • Sharing information about the origins of your flowers will create a fantastic message for social media and educate your audience. 
  • Promoting your ethical credentials will likely increase sales 

We use cookies to personalise content and ads, to provide social media features and to analyse our traffic.

By clicking 'Accept' you're agreeing to our Privacy and Cookie Policy.