Just how green is floral foam?

Short answer? Not very.

In fact it’s a lot closer to black – carbon black that is. And formaldehyde and barium sulphates…

floralfoamfreezoneYou’ve probably noticed by now that floriography is floral foam free – meaning that you will never find that ‘green’ floral foam in any of my designs. I get a few curious looks when I tell my clients so I thought I’d take this opportunity to explain my reasons, and hopefully educate my clients and fellow florists alike. Afterall, knowledge is power…

Why I refuse to use floral foam

  1. Floral foam is comprised of a formidable line-up of toxic ingredients including carbon black, formaldehyde and barium sulphates just to name a few. Without going into specifics, the first two ingredients are known carcinogens. That is, they cause cancer.

Formaldehyde poses serious health risks whether the foam is wet or dry. When the foam is dry (including dust particles), it can irritate the eyes and skin, as well as cause headaches and breathing difficulties, not to mention triggering asthma symptoms. It can also affect the end user – the recipient of your flowers. It’s been found that if formaldehyde is kept in warm or stagnant conditions it may actually release harmful gases after leaching into the water. Hardly what I’d want next to my loved one’s hospital bedside.

As my business is home-based, I’m certainly not interested in compromising the health of my family by allowing this product into the house. It’s just not worth it to me. I’d have the same policy if I ran a store of employees too.

2. For such a toxic product there is very little safety advice. Florists are rarely taught about the safe handling of foam. Next time you open your box of floral foam, look out for the MSDS (Material Safety Data Sheet) which should be included with the contents. Can’t find it? Funny that. I made several requests for a copy of this document, but the manufacturer seemed to conveniently lose my email address, time and again. You would expect that a company manufacturing such a product has a duty of care to their customers? If you’re interested in seeing the MSDS – please view this post over at Gorgeous & Green florist’s website. You might also find the comments very interesting.

3. This product is not biodegradable. After all those boxed arrangements have perished, massive quantities of foam end up in landfill, FOREVER; once again with serious risk of off-gassing

4. Flowers are happier in plain old water. Did you realise that foam arrangements still require regular water top ups? Research has shown that people are more likely to refresh the water if their flowers are in a vase – rewarding them with longer lasting flowers.

floralfoamfree

 Want the good news?

There are so many alternatives out there! Many of these tried and true methods have been around long before floral foam and continue to provide excellent results. In fact, after you’ve seen all the options – foam kinda feels like cheating in comparison. Yes, it can certainly offer some impressive, gravity-defying designs – but whatever happened to art imitating life?

Having been foam free for over a year, I now have quite the repertoire of alternative techniques to turn to depending on my style of creation, and I look forward to sharing some with you. In fact, I can often be found researching and testing different mediums on some poor unsuspecting flowers in my atelier, hoping to add another trick to my toolkit.

So as I come to the end of my rant, I hope I’ve given you an insight into my no-foam policy. I’m proud to say that I’m not the only one taking this stand, and if you’re looking for a foam-free florist elsewhere in Australia, or throughout the world, I’ll gladly put you in touch with one from my ever-growing list of contacts. In fact, please head over to Gorgeous & Green’s blog for another insight into this mysterious green foam.

Coming up, I’ll share how you can make better choices – whether you are a florist or a consumer.

 

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this post in the comments below…