It is so important, especially now, to try and be as sustainable as possible, especially when it comes to our preferred purchases. It is so easy to overlook what you are purchasing when it comes to leading a more sustainable lifestyle, and this is also true when it comes to dried flowers.
Dried flowers have made their comeback in popularity in recent years and for a good reason. Not only do they last considerably longer in comparison to fresh flowers, but they are incredibly versatile. They can be used in a multitude of ways to decorate an interior space.
Most people understand dried flowers to be environmentally friendly for the reasons above. However, there can be a darker side that is not often spoken about.
Our aim in this article is to shed light on the red flags of dried flowers and ways to combat them.
Fresh flowers vs Dried flowers
Why are dried flowers more sustainable than fresh flowers?
- They can be re-used. Whether they are flowers used at your wedding or just a bouquet you bought to fight off the Sunday scaries, your flowers will last for a very long time, especially when given the proper care. This means you can use them time and time again to decorate your home and even repurpose them into art, such as making a pressed flower frame or as confetti to decorate your living room table.
- They have a longer shelf-life. As previously mentioned, dried flowers last ‘forever’ (closer to 3 years, but forever is a reasonable estimate). This means you don’t have to constantly re-purchase flowers; instead, you can have a bouquet to decorate your living space year-round.
The Unsustainable side of dried flowers
How sustainable dried flowers are can be questioned when they have been coloured, dyed, or decorated with bleach or glitter.
Let’s dive in further…
Flower bleaching involves using chemicals to remove the natural pigments from the flowers. This is often used for wedding flowers and other events where stark white flowers are highly sought after. Typically, the process is repeated until the desired colour has been achieved.
Additionally, suppliers may opt to go in and dye the flowers in order to ensure they are achieving the best colour possible. They will then also have to take subsequent steps in order to eliminate the chemical odour, and strengthen the flowers’ weakened stems.
Dyed dried flowers are widespread in the floral industry. From bright blue to pastel pink, you can find blooms of almost any colour. The problem is that the process involves using toxic chemicals that can poison natural habitats. There are natural dyes that can be used, however, it will depend on the company you sourced your flowers from.
One of the most popular decor choices for dried flowers is glitter. This is especially prevalent in Christmas bouquets and decorations, adding a festive feel to the flowers. Most glitter is made from plastic, which contributes to microplastic pollution. This obviously means that if you have dried flowers decorated with glitter, they aren’t as sustainable as natural dried flowers.
Are dried flowers biodegradable?
What do we mean when we say ‘biodegradable’?
- This refers to a substance or item that can be decomposed by microbes, bacteria or other living organisms and be reabsorbed by the environment avoiding causing pollution.
So are dried flowers biodegradable?
- YES, when they are completely natural without any added chemicals.
- YES, when dyed using natural dyes.
- NO, when using synthetic dyes, as they can leach toxic chemicals.
- NO, when they are decorated with plastics like glitter.
How to find out if dried flowers are biodegradable.
The only sure way to identify whether your dried flowers are biodegradable is to get information directly from the source. Here we have put together a list of potential questions you can ask brands or suppliers to help establish the sustainability of your flowers:
- Where were the flowers sourced from?
- How were they made?
- Was bleach or dye used during the drying process?
- What type of dye was used?
- Are there any plastic elements to the decorations (e.g. glitter)?