The No Floral Foam Movement: What is Floral Foam, and What Can You Use Instead?
Sustainability and environmentally conscious practices are incredibly important within the floral industry. Paeonia Pines focuses on local, sustainable flower farming when selecting sources for floral arrangements. So it’s no surprise that Emily’s dedication to being environmentally conscious extends to her use of materials when arranging the flowers she sources.
If you have ever purchased a flower arrangement, or if you have created centerpieces or arrangements for an event, chances are you have encountered floral foam. Until recently, not much attention was brought to the composition and negative effects of floral foam. However, there has been a recent movement within the floral industry to use alternatives, as floral foam has been found to have harmful environmental effects.
The #nofloralfoam trend focuses on raising awareness of the issues surrounding floral foam, while providing inspiration and alternatives for the floral industry.
What is floral foam?
Floral foam is a phenolic foam that easily absorbs water. It is plastic-based, and its components include formaldehyde and carbon black. Invented in 1954, it was meant to be an effective way to keep flowers in place and hydrated. When soaked in water, floral foam can absorb enough water to keep arrangements looking fresh for several days.
Why is floral foam used?
An important part of floral arrangements is ensuring the flowers stay hydrated and the blooms keep their natural beauty. Floral foam provides hydration to the flowers for an extended period of time.
Each flower stem is inserted directly into the foam, ensuring it stays in place in the arrangement. This is especially beneficial when transporting flowers from workshop to event space.
Why is floral foam bad for the environment?
Due to the nature of floral foam, it cannot be reused once it dries. It also cannot be recycled, which means all the floral foam used is ending up in landfills. Floral foam is not biodegradable, which means it won’t break down in the landfill. The chemicals and toxic components present in disposed floral foam undoubtedly run off into water sources, further polluting the environment and increasing exposure to its toxic elements.
What can be used instead?
Before the use of floral foam, florists used materials such as chicken wire or newspaper filler. Returning to natural and recyclable materials is a priority for floral artists supporting the No Floral Foam movement. A little creativity and ingenuity can provide the same stabilizing and hydrating benefits of floral foam without the negative environmental consequences.
Chicken wire remains a popular choice, as it can be shaped to fit the vase or arrangement. The holes in the wiring can be used as framework for the flower arrangement. Unlike floral foam, chicken wire can be reused multiple times.
Similar to floral foam in its ability to absorb water, moss is a natural alternative. It can be shaped and attached to framework for arrangements.
Flower frogs are also a popular tool in floral arrangements. The spiked base allows for specific arrangement of the flowers, while increasing water absorption.
My favorite method for creating installations without floral foam is using Eco Fresh Bouquet wraps. They are plant-based, compostable, and will keep flowers hydrated for days. I use chicken wire as a frame for the installations, fill in the greenery, and attach prearranged bouquets of flowers to the frame with a zip tie or wire. All the bouquet wraps are strategically covered with greenery and flowers. From the front of the installation piece, you wouldn’t be the wiser what the mechanics of it are underneath.
Another favorite for when I’m doing more scattered individual flowers is to use water picks. These are little tubes with a rubber top that has a hole for the flower stem to go in. It allows the individual flower to be kept in water inside an installation or a garland.
This gorgeous ceremony arbor at Comforts of Whidbey had existing wisteria. I added single white roses throughout the greenery, which stayed hydrated with water picks.
Using natural, compostable, or recyclable materials when flower arranging is an important aspect of sustainable floral artistry. If you want to chat more about how Paeonia Pines can bring your wedding day floral vision to life in a creative and environmentally conscious way, be sure to reach out. Let's chat!