Being green
appears to be a niche

In our industry, everyone is aware of retailers insisting on sustainability but there are a few green florists, too. Lynn Mehl of Good Old Days Eco Florist in New Windsor (New York, USA) is one of them. “Becoming an earth-minded, green florist turned out to be something bigger than just following my own beliefs. I could also promote my shop as a niche business.”

 “Of course more florists are becoming aware of the benefits of being green,” Lynn says. “But it does take an effort to reconstruct a traditional florist to a one-of-a-green mind. For me, it started in December 1997 while compiling my Valentine’s Day order. My Mother asked where those beautifully scented, American Beauty roses had gone we used to have. I had to admit they were no longer available because the Latin American roses had taken their place. I recalled the years of our complacency toward the lessened scent of flowers and seeing pesticide-covered foliage as just a common occurrence. However, in 1997 my rose research made me unhappy with what I found. Latin America’s track record on pesticides and labour circumstances was far from good. As an environmentalist I was living my life one way and having a career another. This knowledge made me extremely unhappy with the ways of my industry, so I decided to either change careers or try to change my business.”

“I started with the flowers. From California and Florida to Minnesota and even more local from the East Coast, in season I researched growers and contacted them asking if they would send me their flowers. They happily agreed to. I Americanized the entire assortment in my shop, not only flowers and plants but decorative accessories, too. It greatly lessened the chemical use, vastly improved my carbon footprint on transport issues and supported our American farms. With my product issue solved, I then took each component of an operating florist, investigating all processes and materials from the smallest of cleaning and office supplies to recycling, and my energy and water use. Everything is recycled, reused, or upcycled. One by one I either discontinued as many non-green minded items and issues as possible or found sustainable alternatives.”

“Floristry is an industry based in nature so it should friendly to the environment. In our growing season of late Spring to the end of October we mainly use local flowers from the East coast. In winter, our flowers are mostly from California and the southern states. Fortunately, more people now, especially millennials, are interested in environmental practices and products so the demand is there and growing for local and domestic-sourced flowers and goods.”

“Being eco-friendly means being a traditional florist. I adapted early on when it came to the internet and having a website and I laid the groundwork for sustainability. Because of my website, green-minded people across the country have ordered bouquets, even to New York City, 60 miles from my shop. My flowers are sold to a mix of what I term dark green, light green, brown, and patriotic people. Some clients are more green-minded and others are less while some not at all, but the appeal is there and I pick my battles. When a bride-to-be enters my shop and asks for out-of-season flowers or a Colombian import variety, I show her the local, seasonal and American-grown alternatives that might be better for the environment and let her choose.”

“Year-round availability of any agricultural product has become the standard in our current society. I cannot change attitudes on my own but I can bring awareness and influence to as many as possible to be more responsible with purchasing, including florists. People visiting my shop come to see the best and brightest of flowers. This is why they choose to visit a florist instead of a supermarket. We can do things differently by offering both the most beautiful and sustainable. We must regain the florists’ exclusivity and price because if we have the same products & pricing as a supermarket, there is no benefit to visit us, much less place an order. Being a green and sustainable business and selling local products gave my business a certain image but without my realizing it. I also gained client trust and a valuable commercial niche within our industry. When people see you care about more than quick profit, this creates trust which is priceless. People trust me and have become the best kind of  customers: loyal.  I didn’t set out or intend to develop this clientele, it just happened as a consequence of greening my shop.”

Related articles