The Sustainable Choice: Tips on Buying And Making Your Own Dried Flowers
The fresh flower industry might be hurting the environment more than you think. Instead, you can practice sustainability by choosing dried flower arrangements for your home and events
Every little thing that you do every day adds up—whether that’s choosing not to ask for plastic cutleries, reusing your containers, or choosing the right stuff to put in your home. We might think they’re little, harmless things. But when everyone goes by this mindset, all of them adds up and contributes to either the protection or the ruin of our environment.
Fresh flowers as gifts and decorations, for example, is an industry that leaves a huge carbon footprint. In the recent years, global fresh flower supply has been transferred to countries near the equator to lessen the supplies needed for greenhouse maintenance. Outsourcing flower growing to countries like Kenya, Columbia, Ethiopia, and Ecuador meant that more flowers are being grown and harvested at less emissions and energy requirement.
However, that doesn’t change the fact that chemical pollution coming from the cut-flower industry is still rampant. Green Journal UK reports that since flowers are not edible crops, the industry gets away with less regulations on pesticide residue. Methyl Bromide, for example, is an extremely toxic chemical that is still in wide use in the cut-flower industry. It is said to be five times more destructive to the ozone layer compared to carbon dioxide (CO2).
The industry is also a mammoth consumer of energy and water, and a producer of CO2 emissions. According to Flowerpetal.com, it takes some 9,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions for Valentine’s Day roses to travel from the field to a US florist. Lab Roots reports that one hectare of flower farm can consume over 900 cubic meters of water per month.
Just like fruits and vegetables, flowers don’t grow all year round. To continue catering to the demand for all kinds of flowers throughout the year, greenhouses—which are notorious producers of CO2 emissions and consumers of energy and water—are still being utilized.
Dried flowers: a sustainable alternative
Given the rise of climate change, the floral industry is trying its best to be more environmental-friendly. Some companies are switching to less harmful pesticides, and more people are being inspired to support local flower stores offering seasonal flowers.
But if you’re using flowers as home decoration or something to spruce up your events, there’s still so much wastage when you think about how often you need to keep buying and how much flower growers need to produce to keep up with the demand.
This is why as more people become conscious about their impact and footprint on the environment, sustainable options like dried and preserved flowers are starting to become more popular.
Using dried flowers for home decoration and event styling significantly extends the life span of a purchased cut-flower, which effectively lessens the need to keep buying fresh ones. A well-dried flower can stay beautiful for years.
Dried flowers also conserve energy and water. Compared to fresh flowers which have to be stored in water and refrigerated containers to keep fresh, dried flowers are air dried so they just need to be hung and stored in a dark space.
Where to get your dried flowers
Dried flowers are now abundant on Instagram and through some local flower shops. Cora Mina Floral Boutique, for example, is a traditional flower shop and events stylist that has embraced sustainability by drying the fresh flowers she would use to style events.
According to the owner, Zayra, they would collect the fresh flowers they would use to design event spaces and weddings, and dry them in a storage facility they keep in Quezon City. This way, she can breathe a second life into these fresh-cut flowers, and not let all the trouble that went into growing them be short-lived.
Amor Blooms is another fairly new store in Manila that has started offering dried flowers. The owner, Wencelle, shares that he decided to offer dried flowers when his inventory for Mother’s Day got delayed and withered because of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Because of this, he realized that he knew he wanted to stick to flowers that can last longer, and can withstand any challenge or delay that might come. For him, dried flowers became a symbol of resilience and beauty despite the challenges of the pandemic. Since then, he has started offering dried flowers—some sourced locally and some imported from Holland, France, Japan, and Korea.
Kamila’s 4am Art is another store that has mastered the art of dried and preserved flowers. Mimi, the owner and founder of the online store that’s currently based in Japan, started crafting earrings, accessories, and phone cases with preserved flowers in 2017. Even though she started Kamila’s as an outlet for her newfound hobby, now, the brand has transformed into a full-grown social enterprise that helps communities and embraces sustainability.
Kamila’s debuted her dried flower bouquets recently, offering one-of-a-kind dried flowers sourced from Japan. She says she took inspiration from flower shops in Japan that don’t let unsold flowers go to waste. Instead, they would hang the flowers to dry—which, during this process, became decoration for the store.
This is what sustainability is all about—making the most out of the things that we have, and being creative about our choices and actions so that the things we love don’t bring more harm to the environment.
How to dry your own flowers
If you received fresh flowers, don’t worry because drying flowers is fairly easy, too. One of the most popular techniques is the air dry method, where all you need to do is cut the excess foliage from the flower stems, tie them together in a bouquet, and hang them upside down in a dark, dry area with good circulation. Good places would be an attic or unused closet. Leave them like this for two to three weeks until they’re completely dry.
You can also microwave flowers such as roses and tulips, because the microwave method will better preserve the color and structure of these flowers with bigger petals. To do this, you need a microwave-safe container that can hold your flowers. Place 2-3 inches of silica gel on the container, place the flowers, and then pour more gel over the flowers gently so the petals won’t get flattened. Keep the container uncovered and place it inside the microwave.
This step may require a bit of a trial and error since different flowers require different times, but start experimenting with the lowest settings at 2-5 minutes. After this, remove the container from the microwave and cover immediately. Let it sit for 24 hours.
Arrangements and inspiration
If you’re filling your home with tons of dried flowers and vases, and if you’d like to exercise your creativity, you can order dried flowers by the bundle. This would let you experiment with flower arrangements—and have fun at it, too!
However, one bundle, sometimes, might be too much, especially if you’re planning to buy more than one kind. Instead, you can take inspiration from these bouquet and flower arrangements by Cora Mina, Kamila’s 4AM Art, and Amor Blooms, which you can already order straight from them.