We're proud to be part of a passionate "sustainable floristry" and farming movement, and have been from Day 1. The resurgence of local flower growers in the US is palpable. New flower farmers are showing up at farmers' markets each season and are beginning to sell their blooms to grocery stores and retail floral shops. Returning to our tables are long-lost varieties that do not withstand air travel. Organic farming principles are at the heart of new farmers' practices, and a new wave of florists have rejected the use of floral foam and even plastic sleeves en masse. New mushroom and wool based biodegradable products have hit the market, enabling florists to produce designs in a more eco friendly manner.
Sustainability is complex. In general, at MOF we think it means moving away from systems, policies, and hierarchies of power wedded to extracting or spoiling the earth’s natural resources for profit. It’s learning, building relationships and storytelling in ways that build equity, wellness and health for all.
There are a number of ways we incorporate and pioneer “slow flowers” practices to reduce our impact.
Some of our practices include:
Sourcing Local Flowers
We source the hardiest, highest quality flowers available, grown by local flower farmers from within 200 miles of NYC. the farmers we love like to grow “better than organic,” focusing on soil health and sustainable practices that do not compromise soil life, and the surrounding living environment.
Foam + Synthetic Chemical Free Design
At MOF, we stick with the basics: clean water. We do not use floral foam, synthetic sprays, or toxic holding solutions - for our health, for yours, and for the diverse ecosystem we coexist with. We favor reusable “mechanics” like chicken wire, floral frogs, and willow to help create some of our designs.
MOF composts all organic waste from production in the studio and post-event at a local urban farm, half a mile from our studio. In sum, We compost (and divert from landfills) about 2,000 lbs of organic waste a year! Compost can be a BIG part of the solution to climate change in cities in the US. In NYC, residents create ~12,000 tons of waste every DAY. Most of this waste is trucked to landfills in Ohio, Virginia + Pennsylvania or incinerated in New Jersey. yet, 22% of this waste is COMPOSTABLE. At Molly Oliver Flowers, we do our part to compost all organic material.
Rented and Locally Sourced Vessels
We stock a variety of vessels and re-use these as long as possible (years!). This greatly reduces consumption of packaging (plastic, paper, foam), and cuts down on fossil fuel energy used for plastic production + shipment of vessels from faraway places. Any new vessels we purchase these days are locally made.
Candles and Candle Holders
Candles - especially votives - are small, but often in abundance at an event, and a critical component of any table! We purchase paraffin-free votive and pillar candles from GoodLight candles, and offer recycled glass votive holders. We also love to purchase 100% Beeswax candles from Beehive Alchemy in Wisconsin.
We invest a Terracycle zero waste bin for our studio, for the non-recyclable + non-reusable odds and ends: a stray boutonniere pin, soft plastic wrapping, nylon twine used to bale branches on 28th street. Terracyle accepts forms of waste that NYC’s recycling program can’t accept, and repurposes these items.
Cardboard, bubble wrap, and paper packaging from past flower purchases and vessel shipments is stored and re-purposed for protecting work surfaces and for safe transport of designs. Reusing is second after reduce, after all.
Our packing materials (bags, sleeves, and tissue) are 100% compostable and recyclable.
Our commitment to sustainability has been noted.
Why Sustaintable Flowers? A short history
Once refrigerated overseas air shipment took off in the 1970s, local flower growing -- vibrant in communities across the US -- essentially ceased. Local growers could not compete with cheap imports, once flower production made a dramatic move to the global south, due to cheaper labor and land costs, and lax environmental regulations. Today, 80% of flowers purchased in the US come from overseas: Colombia, Ecuador, the Netherlands, Japan, Vietnam, and elsewhere. While florists were enabled to create with an expanded inventory of year-round flowers, unfortunately, baked into this system was a deep neglect for the planet and for the communities and landscapes where flower industry dominated. And around the globe, florists adopted products like "Oasis" or flower foam to help stabilize and preserve their designs -- despite the fact this product was made with formaldehyde, a known carcinogen. Packaging and selling flowers in plastic sleeves, shipping flowers overnight across the country, treating flowers with synthetic chemicals and even spraying them with chemical-based perfumes became routine. Flower consumers came to expect affordability, easy and fast and long-lasting flowers.