Let's Change Floral Foam

I have had a lot of positive remarks from the community regarding the conversation I've started about Floral Foam on this blog.  Many folks don't even realize how wasteful it is or how toxic it is.  For thousands of floral designers, clients, workers and anyone else who come into contact with floral foam, there should be far greater transparency about what it's made of and how it's affecting our health and the environment. So, there are two items I would like to ask of the floral foam manufacturers.  And I need your help to get this done. 1. They need to immediately share the MSDS hazardous materials report online, and in print with every box of floral foam.  And,  there should be a warning label on the outside of the box that states some basic facts like: don't inhale, don't ingest, don't handle for prolonged amount of time and discard responsibly. 2.  They need to start making a floral foam that is not filled with hazardous chemicals and that is biodegradable.  Then, it's up to the consumer to make the switch to the less hazardous and more eco-friendly option. Now, there was a company in the UK that was offering a biodegradable floral foam.  So I know it's doable. Who would like to join me in demanding that floral foam manufacturers change their practices? In Green and Health, G&G

Eco-Friendly Memorial Spray

It's a challenging time when people are saying goodbye to a friend or family member at the end of life.  But, I meet the challenge proudly as I know I can be of service to folks during this important time.  I have been asked to do a few memorial arrangements, and recently I provided a casket spray at my boutique, Gorgeous and Green. Most casket sprays and wreaths are made with floral foam these days, but as you know, I don't touch the stuff (see my other blogs about it).  I was able to create a beautiful casket spray without floral foam using locally grown flowers: roses, delphinium, belladonna, mums and gerbera.  It was a little more labor, but I think it turned out beautifully.  The customers were happy and I felt proud to be able to offer such a nice art piece to help them honor their family member. In Green and Health, G&G

Organic or All Natural Beauty Products

It all soaks in...

A year or two ago I came across Skin Deep, a cosmetic database that lists hundreds of different beauty and body products and how potentially harmful they are.  Of course most of us know that there are a lot of nasty chemicals in hairspray, nail polish, sunscreen and even lipstick.  But taking a look at this database will make you realize that just about everything we put on our bodies is potentially harmful. [caption id="attachment_660" align="aligncenter" width="258" caption="Simply Organic Hairspray "][/caption]

I also learned that about 60% of what you put on your skin soaks in to your blood and gets metabolized by your liver.  Some washes away and some just hangs out in your skin.  That's kind of scary.  I definitely watch what I eat, but now I'm doing more to watch what I spray/brush/lather onto my body. [caption id="attachment_662" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Organic Essence Cream"][/caption] You can also view a short blog post I did on The Knot's Green Wedding website, where I highlighted some products I found that are certified USDA organic. There's also more info on the Organic Consumer's Association about the relevance of certified organic and the potential misleading that may go on regarding the use of "natural" and "organic" when it comes to body products. In Green and Health, G&G

The Green Festival, San Francisco

Green Weddings and Green People in San Francisco

www.greenfestivals.org And no, we're not all eating granola.  I like granola like everyone else, but I definitely don't see myself as "granola" just because I live green or sustainable.  Besides, granola isn't a bad word these days.  It actually is pretty tasty, especially homemade.  Put it into a jar and you've got a great gift or "wedding favor" for your guests. Ok, so what will we be doing at this green festival?  Well lots of talking, sharing and looking at new ideas and guest speakers.  Check out the Schedule.  Online you can download a guide to the festival that gives you all the cool info.  It's huge and includes so many inspiring words, visuals and people.  Here are just a few of the highlights:
  • 450+ exhibitors and organizations in the Green Marketplace
  • 45 minutes presentations and speakers on the sustainable economy, ecological balance and social justice
  • how-to workshops in the Green Buiding Pavilion
  • Hemp fashion shows in the Hemp Pavilion
  • Music acts
  • Food Demonstrations in the Soul Kitchen
  • Green Social Media Demonstrations
  • Organic food and drink
  • Concerts and dance parties after dark:  greenbash.com
I'm actually going to be volunteering for the festival and donating some large sustainable arrangements (I'll post the photos this week).   I'll also be checking out new ideas I can use in my business and in my life (my husband wants to get a small wind turbine for our front yard... in Oakland)  and making connections with other green-minded folks.  One connection I've already made is going to be there, and I look forward to seeing their hemp silk bridal attire at a fashion show Friday and Saturday night.  They're called Conscious Clothing and you can check out there stuff here:  www.getconscious.com Here are some beautiful examples of the things they can do.  What I like, is that they do custom designs.

ruffle hemp silk wedding dressHere is the dress with all the layers, but you can unzip the last three and make it shorter.

IMG_3279

IMG_3295_1

low back hemp silk wedding dressI love the low back and silk ruffles of this dress.

IMG_3320

IMG_3316love it.

So if your in or around the Bay, definitely come check out the SF Green Festival this coming weekend.

In Green and Health,

G&G

 

 

 

 

My favorite Recycled things #2

Snow, Winter Weddings and Wonderlands

I live in California.  So, I don't see much snow, and when I do, it's because I've decided to head to the mountains.  I have to admit, I'd rather have the option.  Blizzards, black ice, shoveling snow and drippy noses seem to come to mind when I think of snowy winters...  But so do snow days, snow flakes, hot cocoa and snow men.  I guess it's a yin and yang situation. Whether you dream of playing in the snow or just like to watch it on TV like some of us, you will probably love these gorgeous recycled snow flake jewelry pieces by Kumvana Gomani that are featured on inhabitat.com. snonecklace02 Picture-2-04 kumvana_profile They are delicate, light (I imagine) and could be the perfect adornment for a wedding ensemble, cocktail dress or just a day at the office.  I love the fact that they are made from plastic bottles.  I love it, I love it, I love it.  Can you ask for anything more? For those of you not sure why this is a big deal, check out this little story on the tremendous amount of plastic water bottles and other plastic waste floating around the oceans as we speak: thechicecologist.com Yikes!  Giant plastic islands floating around the oceans the size of texas!  If you read the full post you'll see that plastic is accumulating and turning up everywhere, including in that sushi dinner you just had. Kumvana's jewelry pieces are gorgeous, handmade and totally affordable!  I know they aren't diamonds or anything, but that plastic just might last as long! In Recycling and Health, G&G

Biodegradable Floral Foam?

Non-toxic and Biodegradable Floral Foam, Where are You?

I wrote a post a few months ago about the toxins found in floral foam and that it's essentially made of plastic that isn't biodegradable.  I've gotten so many hits on my blog about it, and yet, I still don't have much in the way of another option.  Until I dug up this information from Stanel Co, a bioplastics firm based in the United Kingdom.  Here is an informational pdf about a new bioplastic technology that can allow someone to make biodegradable floral foam made from plants: www.stanelcoplc.com .   This new polymer: bioplastic 2189 is both biodegradable and compostable!  What a relief.  Can you imagine?  being able to throw the foam and the flowers into the compost bin? What's more, the bioplastic works in the same way as the fossil fuel plastic, so it can be switched out and used in the very same factories and machinery as the other stuff.   I can't wait to go order this foam... But wait, who's making it?   Well apparently one floral foam specialist company is using this polymer to make biodegradable funeral foams: www.valspicer.co.uk .  They have wonderful foam shapes and molds, but I don't see any biodegradable options on their site.  I've contacted them and hope to find out what they have available! I will share any updates as soon as I can.  I would also urge you to write a letter or email to floral foam manufacturers suggesting they make a switch to nontoxic and biodegradable. Here's a couple of the top manufacturers: Smithers Oasis, Ultra Floral Foam. In the mean time, I totally avoid the stuff, and find creative and fun ways to display flowers without foam.  Take a look at how Gorgeous and Green tries to stay sustainable: G&G Services.  I know it means more work sometimes and possibly more cost, but to me it's worth it.  And it's worth it to a lot of customers to, not to mention to the planet. Check out these two designs from Gorgeous and Green Events that are totally floral foam free:

GG bouquet blue fuschia

GG fruit and veggie glass

Courtesy of www.seandonnellyphotography.com     In Green and Health, G&G

IKEA is earth friendly, right?

Sustainable or Not: IKEA (the big blue box)

Now, I love the idea of affordable household goods, tools, dishware, furniture and plants all in one big store.  I especially like to hear when big stores are selling items that are made from sustainable resources.  But, you have to dig a little deeper than the tags on that couch to find out if it's really a sustainable purchase.  Or maybe not, as in the case of the IKEA item of the month below. First off, if you've already got a couch, cups, plates, rugs, sheets, frames, etc. in your home, you probably don't need to go to Ikea.  That is the first step is acting sustainably when it comes to shopping. Second, if you do need something, you probably don't need to buy the plastic candle holders and the cute scented candles that smell like fake gardenias.  This step requires the most strict determination to avoid putting unnecessary items into your cart.  This is probably the wisest of steps. Third, if you just want to see what Ikea has, because you're thinking of putting bamboo floors in your house, due to the fact that your current floors have either 1: completely disappeared beneath your feet, 2: have a complete termite infestation, or 3: the carpet has completely gone bald and you are mad that you still call it a shag rug from when it was first put in, in 1969.  Then, don't bring your wallet.  See above. The problem with IKEA, is that they sell a lot of items you would need when first starting up your home collection.  Necessary and well priced stuff, that can be sustainable (see glass food containers and low-wattage lamps).  But it also has a ton of stuff you don't need.  Let's face it.  You don't need a large stuffed snake made of plastic or a paper box to hide your overgrowth of office junk.  Just recycle it already. Want to see some specific examples of what you don't need?  Take the following items for example:

plastic plants

plastic plants2

These, are plants.  Plastic plants.  Sure, they don't need water, but they are also made entirely of petroleum and probably led to chemical pollution where they were made, where they will hang for a few years and where they will be thrown away.  Pretty much defeats the purpose.  It's almost like the ironic opposite of an oxygen producing and air purifying, real live plant.

And get this:

ikea plant a tree Buy their plastic plants, and everything else you didn't need, and you can make up for part of the pollution by donating money to plant a tree.  More irony please? Ikea, I love your low watt bulbs and your glass jars, but I can't forgive your plastic plants and other plastic crappola. Avoiding unnecessary plastic stuff, G&G

Growing Flowers for Floral Design

Reinventing a Backyard

Turning a friend's yard into a Floral Harvest

I've been wanting to start growing larger quantities of flowers and greens so that I can use them in the floral designs I create for people.  It's probably the most sustainable way to offer floral design. My own yard is not quite as large as I would like, but my friend has more yard than she knows what to do with, so guess who's going to use the space?  Yes, I've been offered a large plot in her yard.  It gets full sun, to part sun in one corner.  There is probably a good 500 square foot area that could be used. It will take quite a bit of preparation, weed-wacking, weed pulling, and leveling, but with a fair amount of work I anticipate a great outcome.  I'm really excited to offer floral materials that I know for a fact have not been sprayed with pesticides and are contributing nothing but floral joy and oxygen to the planet.  I hope to also include organic and native plants, as seeds these days are everything from genetically modified to patented, by large companies like Monsanto and other massive monopolies. I want to update you all every few weeks with the progress of the backyard flower garden.  Here is the yard as it stands today:   T's backyard2 T's backyard I haven't decided on the exact flowers that I want to plant in the space, but I have illustrated how I want the outlook /landscape of the space to look.  I know I want to include some sage, celosia, lavender, horsetails and ferns.  Feel free and give me some flower/plant ideas if you have them: garden Check in next week to see how far I've gotten with the space... I'm hoping to get it cleared this weekend. G&G

Silk or Artificial Flowers are not the option

"Silk" or artificial flowers are NOT a

sustainable or eco-friendly option

artificial-flowers Now I remember when I used to help my aunt decorate for weddings, we used silk flowers (actually plastic, but we'll get into that in a second) for decorating because we could use them over and over again, and couple's could save money on their decorations.  That was back in the 80's, and I thought a lot had changed since then.  Apparently not. I have noticed in one too many art stores that there are large quantities and varieties of plastic flowers.  I have also noticed many brides and grooms desiring and talking about silk flowers on wedding chats and so forth.  It scares me.  Haven't we all been schooled in what's good for the environment?  At the very least, aren't people concerned about all that plastic that's going to sit in our landfills for years to come in the form of a colorful plastic gerber daisy? But then I remembered the name: "silk flowers".  Maybe it's throwing people off.  So, here's a little background to artificial flowers and how they got their silk name. Many years ago, in some cultures (in Asia and in Europe and eventually in the U.S.) it was considered a beautiful art form to recreate flowers out of artistic materials in such a way, that these fakes looked almost real.  Back in those days, they didn't have plastic.  They probably used natural materials: cottons, wool and most likely silk.  Some used clay, others used glass beads.  The list may go on, but the point is, they didn't use plastic.  And, it was all biodegradable.  Some of the paints or dyes, may have been slightly toxic, as they are today, but hopefully less so.  What did happen however, is that even back then, those who created these artistic representations were paid little and the work was tedious and hard.  And, even at the turn of the century in this country (still before plastic) the factories where these artificial flowers were made were filled with women and children, often working long hours, using child labor and unfair work conditions.  For more information about this time period and artificial manufacturing take a look at this book by Mary Van Kleeck for the Committee on Women's Work of the Russell Sage Foundation in 1913: books.google.com/books A hundred years have gone by, and in the mean time as in that famous line from The Graduate states:  our future lies in plastic.  And unfortunately so will many generations of people and animals on this earth as it isn't going away any time soon. Now, producing plastic can't be great for the environment.  In one article I found, the author suggested that there was actually no byproducts of artificial flowers.   Hmm.  Not sure where they think the plastic comes from in all those beautiful colors.  I Know a little bit about production, and I would assume that creating and melting and dying and forming those colorful plastic flowers and trees, there will be some leaching of that plastic, chemicals and dyes from that process into the environment, the soil, the air, the ground water, the oceans, etc.  In fact, I did find another book that suggested that people who make artificial flowers come into contact with arsenic gas, apparently it's pretty harmful, every heard of it?  And to top it off, a lot of these flowers, trees and fake shrubs are either doused in fire retardant chemicals or chemicals are "embedded" into the polyester or plastic materials so they are fire retardant.  Not only do they live forever, but they might burn because they're made of plastic.  You can't be too careful.  You can check out why they want you to buy that here:  http://www.commercialsilk.com artificial-tree1 But, not only does manufacturing the flowers probably affect people's health and the health of the environment in which it was made, it's also about who it's affecting.  Where do you think all these plastic flowers and trees and fake grasses are made?  Well, let's see.  Their plastic.  Their cheap.  Oh, could it be China?  Or maybe Thailand?  Or, say India?  Yes.  Cheap labor.  Unfair working conditions. Underpaid people or maybe even children, like this girl found by this photographer: a href="http://www.loupiote.com/photos/87750962.shtml"> artificial flowers - child labour - vietnam These underpaid laborers working tedious jobs with chemicals, arsenic and who knows what else.  And thankfully for the U.S., it's all being made in another country so the pollutants aren't directly in our backyard.   But that's not the end of the story.  Then it gets shipped thousands of miles over to us and trucks bring it to our homes or stores and we lovingly put the flowers in nice plastic vases and glue them together with some hot glue and styrofoam.  How lovely for the landfills.  And then we put those lovely fire retardant plastic flowers in our bedrooms and in our restaurants, and they collect dust while fire retardant and plastic off gases around them.  And if you're lucky, they may have even been sprayed with chemicals to make them smell like real flowers.  It just gets better and better. Now, I realize I may sound upset.  And I am.  And I know there are a ton of people out there who already know these flowers are not a good idea.  But for those of you entertaining the idea, please think twice.  If you're concerned about money, think about other ways to decorate that could be more forgiving to the environment and people's health.  If you want flowers, think naturally.  Why not buy some locally grown wildflowers?  or get some organic roses?  Find an organic or sustainable florist in your area.  I know people are starting to understand that most live cut flowers are sprayed with toxic pesticides and fungicides, etc.  as stated on this website for artificial flowers:  fake flowers don't need pesticides.  And you're right, but that in no way makes them good for the environment.  If you are really on a budget and worried about toxins, make them out of recycled paper, some fair trade organic cotton, anything but plastic!   You won't find a #2 recycle symbol on the back of that plastic rose, so you know where it goes when you're done. That's all for now. In Green and Health G&G

Vintage and Natural Seating Cards

The ABC's of finding your seat

When it comes to events with sit down breakfast, lunch or dinner, I love the idea of the seating card and finding a way to present the cards in a way that is fun and exciting.  I have many ideas in my head, but one that I can always lean back on is hanging cards from branches.  Not only does it add a festive element, it's clearly natural and biodegradable and lends an organic design element to your design.  To make it even more green, don't forget to use organic flowers (like those shown in the pictures) and use recycled paper or tree-free paper if possible.  I also used hemp cord to hang the cards on the branches. I recently saw some paper at a craft store that I just had to use to make table seating cards with.  The paper is a vintage alphabet design, with a short sentence featuring a word beginning with the letter of the alphabet that's being shown in the picture.  It kind of reminds me of those Dick and Jane cartoons.  Anyway, take a look at how I used the alphabet for people's last names, so they know where to find their seating card. gg-alphabet-table-cards   Here are some up close pics of the design (provided by Cavallini Paper Co. a paper company right here in the Bay Area):   gg-b-table-cards1 gg-d-table-cards1   gg-a-table-cards2 Enjoy! In Green and Health, G&G www.gorgeousandgreenevents.com