Goodbye plastic sleeves
We have finally done it!
We have now stopped using single use plastic sleeves and our boxes of scented flowers are nearly plastic free. Obviously, the flowers and foliage have always been biodegradable but now all our packaging, apart from a few elastic bands and the sachets of flower food, is paper or card. And because our flowers are grown outdoors in the UK without additional heat or light we don’t think there are many other gifts that leave a lighter environmental foot print.
Long time coming
Reducing plastic in our packaging has been on our radar for quite a while, but spurred on by the BBC’s Blue Planet series we set about developing a solution to the problem. We first started thinking about this six years ago. We investigated biodegradable plastic flower sleeves but unconvinced by the environmental credentials of such plastics and their durability in damp conditions we didn’t feel it was the solution for us.
Who needs sleeves?
We admit we were a little transfixed on replacing our plastic sleeves with similar but then the lightbulb moment struck – ‘Do we really need sleeves?’. The sleeves were doing two jobs, protecting the flowers and presenting them nicely in the box. Our operations manager Neil came up with the brainwave of wrapping the flowers like a burrito – food is never far from his mind! The burrito idea had the potential to protect and present the flowers well so we started to develop it.
Kebabs and straws
Over the summer we spent quite a bit of time coming up with a design that our packing team could work with efficiently and that would be suitable for different size boxes and with flowers that have different thicknesses of stems. There was a lot of measuring, cutting, sticking and head scratching. My particular favourite was a morning in the middle of summer spent trying to replicate different thicknesses of narcissi with bundles of kebab sticks and drinking straws.
Plastic free - really?
Of course, it is all very well and good to proclaim you are, ‘plastic free’ (well nearly) but if you don’t look at your plastic use and environmental impact as a whole business intelligently and thoroughly, ‘plastic free’ can become somewhat of a hollow marketing sham. I don’t believe that all plastic is evil, in some places it is the right material for the job, even in a single use context. For example, I can’t at the moment think of a suitable replacement for our flower food sachets. It is also very easy to get caught out by hidden plastics. We have also ditched the ribbon were using around our flowers as although it didn’t look it, it was 100% plastic. As a business we have always tried to farm and operate in an environmentally responsible way, we aren’t perfect, but we will continue to strive to improve.