Happy Earth Day!

What better time than Earth Day to explain our sustainable approach to floral design!  I started Pollen specifically to offer an eco-friendly floral design option to couples planning their weddings.  In both our operations and in our sourcing of materials, we operate in as eco-friendly of a way as possible.  It’s been an evolving process, finding workarounds to the traditional ways of doing things as we go.  Here are a few of the things that we are doing differently…

We avoid using floral foam.  Floral foam is a petroleum product, never biodegrades, and contains formaldehyde.  The less of it we are putting out there, the better.  Instead of using foam, we design our arrangements in water, using chicken wire and/or tape if necessary to provide some support to the arrangement.

summer locally grown wedding bouquetWe work with local flower farmers as much as possible.  In the Chicago area, for about half the year we have access to beautiful locally grown product. During the growing season, we work with these local blooms as much as possible.  This means the product doesn’t have to travel as far (less fossil fuel required), we’re supporting the local farming community, and our designs reflect the seasons!

Throughout the year, we have several partners we lean on for our sustainable approach.

Bright Endeavors

I met the folks at Bright Endeavors when Pollen and Bright Endeavors were located in the same building in Ravenswood.  Bright Endeavors is a social enterprise that makes eco-friendly candles and bath products while providing job skills training to women who are at risk for poverty.  They have a votive refill program, where I am able to bring back my votive candles again and again to be filled with soy wax.  (Pssst…They also have products appropriate for wedding favors!)

Collective Resource

Collective Resource swings by each week to pick up our compostable materials.  They transport all of our leaves, stems, and spent flowers to a commercial composting facility. And. yes, Collective Resource offers this service for home food scraps as well.  They can also help you plan a zero-waste event!

Chicago Green Wedding Alliance

Chicago Green Wedding Alliance approved vendorThis group of wedding vendors began as a grassroots effort, formed by myself and a few other like-minded business owners wanting to encourage greener weddings and make it easier for couples to find eco-friendly wedding vendors.  We’ve grown to a membership of 40+ businesses, hosting an annual wedding show as well as other educational and fun events.  This Sunday, April 27, 2014 we’re holding our second annual Wedding Recyclery, a tag sale for couples to sell and buy gently used wedding items.  More info on the Recyclery here.

What’s next as I continue to green the business?  This year, I’m trying out growing a few things right here in our own backyard at Pollen.  Also, I’m going to work harder this year to more consistently find new homes for the flowers we bring back from events.  (If you have an organization that would benefit from slightly used flowers, feel free to reach out.)  Heads up: I’ll be looking for a volunteer to rework our picked-up flowers and coordinate their delivery!

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