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Compostable vs. Biodegradable

Updated: Aug 29, 2023

Since studying horticulture and setting up a floristry business with a sustainable approach I have really enjoyed using eco-friendly practices and learning how they can be used in floristry. The most obvious improvement we use is for the structure for wedding and funeral floral arrangements.

Do you know what I mean by floral foam? The green, firm, sponge-like material that you still often find in flower arrangements. When I was little, my mum used to have a piece that I loved to press my fingers into……but little did I know how harmful this material is for the environment.

Just a little insight, floral foam is a chemical bi-product, which was invented in the 1960s. It is

plastic, and breaks down into smaller micro-plastics when it is subjected to light, temperature changes or comes into contact with other chemicals. As with all plastic products, when it breaks down the particles are washed into water systems, polluting our natural environment and harming wildlife - especially marine creatures. So just to confirm, this material is neither biodegradable nor compostable.

Are you familiar with the phrase ‘every beetle is an insect but not every insect is a beetle’? That’s pretty much the same for compostable and biodegradable products - every compostable material is biodegradable but not all biodegradable materials are compostable.

There is a new type of floral foam, which is mainly made with basalt. It is a natural material, a type of rock. Because of that, it biodegrades with the help of microorganisms, like bacteria and fungi. However, at Dorothy Seed we have chosen not to use this material in our wedding and funeral arrangements, as we don’t know enough about how it’s been manufactured and understand that when it is biodegrading it releases harmful gases to the atmosphere.

We prioritise using compostable materials wherever possible. These are plant-based products, the things you can put in your compost heap. They decompose naturally with the help of microorganisms and other living creatures, including slugs and worms. This becomes organic matter which is used to help make the soil to become more fertile. That’s why we keep our packaging as simple and as natural as possible.

When you choose your wedding flowers, encourage your florist to use foam-free structure - using re-usable containers filled with water and some form of plant support including moss acting as a sponge to provide moisture, water tubes, cones and other containers which are suitable for the purpose.

We do the same with our funeral flowers too. Some of them can be repurposed, planted out and the structure can be fully compostable too.

Pretty much anything can be achieved without the use of floral foam and fit for the purpose. Where we can, we will continue to reduce our carbon footprint for a more sustainable future in floristry in South Wales and beyond!

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