Thoughts of a Florist: Choose Foam-Free
What is floral foam?
Photo credits: @nofloralfoam
Floral-foam is a single-use plastic. This plastic is made by combining phenol and formaldehyde. Air is then added to create a foam, which is treated with chemical detergents so it can soak up water.
Floral foam is used as a convenient water source. Flowers can simply be stuck inside the foam and kept hydrated, making design easy and effortless. Foam can be attached to any structure or added within any vessel. The widespread use and reliance of foam in floristry has an everlasting impact on the planet when more eco-friendly alternatives can be used instead.
Florists around the world have been demonstrating that any design can be adapted without foam by using creative and sustainable design techniques.
How is floral-foam dangerous?
Photo credits: Trestrail & colleagues (2020)
When floral-foam breaks down, it becomes small plastic particles that persist in our environment.
These micro-plastics have been demonstrated to be in a size-range that is consumed by both freshwater and marine organisms.
Micro-plastic pollution has now been found in remote areas on earth, far from human activity. This pollution is growing rapidly in our water systems, with evidence suggesting impacts on the feeding, growth, reproductive capabilities, and survival of some marine life.
Why is Floral-Foam still being used?
Photo credits: @floribundaroseflorists
The Sustainable Floristry Network (SFN) sent out a global survey in 2019 and had 1200 florists participate. Two-thirds of those florists said they use foam.
Formal and informal flower schools and floral design courses are still teaching foam as the main design technique all over the world.
77% of respondents in the SFN survey said access to training and education would make it easier to switch to foam-free techniques.
What happens to floral-foam after use?
Foam is often incorrectly thrown in the recycling or compost systems rather than in the waste system where it belongs. The SFN survey found that 72% of respondents pour foam wastewater down the drain, while 15% add it to the garden or soil.
"For the past 60 years, florists all over the world have been pouring it down the sink or putting it in the soil. And we have no idea what customers do with it -- we do know that it is regularly buried with coffins." - Rita Feldmann, SFN
In Toronto, floral-foam must be disposed of in the landfill, not in the compost or recycling systems. Composting or recycling floral-foam does more harm than good, as it contaminates content and prevents it from being processed properly in that system. This foam should not be buried with coffins or crushed down the drain. Foam wastewater should be strained first by pouring it through a tight-weaved fabric to remove as many plastic-particles as possible. There is no great place to dispose of this strained water, but it should never be deliberately dumped in the water system.
Is "biodegradable" foam any better?
"This product has been shown by ASTM D5511 to biodegrade 100% in 567 days in biologically active landfill conditions. Appropriate facilities may not exist in your area."
BioFoam or MaxLife foam is molecularly similar to regular foam. There is no evidence to suggest the micro-plastics from these foams biodegrade into natural components.
"Biodegradable" means the product will break down into its original components. Since floral-foam is still being made with plastic, it will continue to break down into small particles of phenol-formaldehyde plastic. These particles will remain just like regular foam, adding to the microplastic problems in waterways and consumed by wildlife.
BioFoam was actually found to release more toxins than regular foam. In some aquatic organisms, it was found to be almost two times more toxic than regular foam.
Who has access to floral-foam?
Floral-foam is widely available to the public. It can be purchased at dollar stores, craft stores, hardware stores, and gift shops.
There is often little information provided about how to dispose of the foam. The dangers of composting or recycling it or crumbling it down the drain are not discussed or provided.
Floral-foam has become trendy for the purposes of ASMR, where it is often crushed directly down the drain with little knowledge of the harmful impacts on the environment and marine life.
What can you do?
Follow @nofloralfoam on Instagram to read more about the dangers of foam.
Say NO to foam:
Support a foam-free florist or request no floral-foam
Use sustainable floral design and go foam-free
Spread the word:
Share this post to keep the conversation going (or make your own)
Tell your friends and family about the impacts of floral-foam
Live in Canada? Stay tuned:
Change is coming.
Toronto & GTA Fully Foam-Free Florists
Are you a flower lover that wants to find a local florist who has said NO to floral-foam?
Are you a local florist looking to connect with other foam-free creatives?
Below is a list of known foam-free florists in Toronto and the GTA. If you are a 100% foam-free florist (or farmer-florist) and would like to be added to this list or would like the information below updated, please email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The Garden Next Door: Instagram
The Wild Pansy: Instagram
Heirloom Heather: Instagram
Ingénue Floral: Instagram
We are hoping foam-free florists (and farmer-florists) around the world will comment on our Instagram post with their business name and location so we can follow and connect with those that have similar values in floral-design. We hope to increase the foam-free designs we see on our feed and encourage sharing of foam-free techniques across the world.