Going green is an opportunity that many florists continue to overlook. It’s a business approach that can help you cleverly trim your bottom line and give you a marketing edge. It’s often just about being more efficient and getting more out of less. You can then use those smart, environmentally conscientious practices to appeal to a discerning clientele.

Encouraging a culture of sustainability in your shop will only work if you lead by example. You’ve gotta walk the talk, as they say. If you’re starting from scratch, you’ll need to make changes in your operations and processes to see results. Once these changes become routine, they can pay dividends. The environmentally
conscientious consumer of the 21st century looks for these signals in your marketing messages. Here are some practical everyday ways you can reduce your business’s impact on people and the planet, while saving cash! Many of these initiatives are also great marketing strategies, if communicated the right way.

1. Buy used before new when you can. You can find equipment like display furniture, coolers, carts, etc., in great condition at flea markets, garage sales, and architectural salvage stores. Don’t be afraid to stop for an amazing curb find! Second hand shopping allows for frequent display changes with one of a kind finds to keep your merchandising fresh.

2. Support suppliers that use less packaging. Consider rethinking your own packaging and its impact on the planet. Institute a container reuse program (more on this in a second).

3. Avoid single use plastics whenever possible. Our planet is choking on plastic.Offset the unnecessary waste of vases entering landfills by offering a discount or small gift to customers who return containers from past orders.

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4. Don’t allow receipts to print automatically. Instead, offer customers the option to receive receipts by email. Bonus: this is also a great way to collect emails for marketing campaigns.

5. When you do print, print double-sided and in greyscale, when possible. This can be up to a 50% savings in paper, and a measurable savings in colour ink that adds up over time.

6. Reduce electricity waste with efficient LED lighting, using only Energy Star- certified electronics. Use power bars to avoid “ghost power” usage with unused electronics.

7. Maintain your cooler in optimum condition so it runs efficiently, saving electricity and flower supply costs.

8. Take full advantage of your municipality’s Green Bin and Blue Bin recycling program and avoid the costly expense of landfill. Sort your waste properly; most florist waste is compostable or recyclable.

9. Use eco-friendly cleaning products and low/no VOC paints and adhesives. There are thrifty options that allow you to avoid the fumes. You can find 100% recycled content paper towels and bathroom and facial tissues for the same price or less than conventional options. You could also use old cloth towels in the shop to avoid the unnecessary use of paper towels.

10. Water rates are always going up. Reduce wastewater as much as you can. Keep a bucket in your sink to catch any unused water; save it to water your plants. During the warmer months, use wastewater from vases and buckets to water the street trees and vegetation in front of the shop. Even the condensed water from your cooler can be saved and used for plant watering.

11. Group deliveries by neighborhoods to minimize the number of trips you take to cut gas costs and to reduce emissions.

12. Choose local flowers whenever you can. They help support the local economy and require fewer fossil fuels to transport. They are often grown with little to no pesticides through the use of Integrated Pest Management.

Joseph Delarge
Joseph DeLarge, CAFA, CFD, is the owner of eco|stems in Toronto.
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