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Tips for choosing eco-friendly flowers as part of your decor

Green Florals

Decorate your home with eco-flowers.

Flowers can beautify any home, but the heavy environmental impact of the inter­national floral industry might make those blooms on your table seem a little less bright.

So what’s a flower-lover to do?

Check out Park Florist in sleepy Ta­koma Park, a true neighborhood flower shop whose owners Jeanne and Den­nis Ha strive to be as green as possible. It opened its doors in 1935 and has remained mostly unchanged through a succession of owners. What has trans­formed with the times, however, are its practices—it is now an environmentally-conscious establishment, offering shoppers a rare chance to pick out flowers that do right by the earth.

“We recommend a lot of local and seasonal flowers to our customers,” says Jeanne Ha, who has owned the shop since 2004. “We always tell them where the flowers are coming from. We label the buckets. They know what they’re choosing and buying.”

From May to October, Ha gets a weekly delivery from Capital Flower Growers in Purcellville, Virginia, a collaboration of several growers who together offer 150 flower varieties.

When local, seasonable blooms aren’t available, Ha orders flowers from farms around the world, focusing on those with certifications ensuring sustainable and fair practices. The most prominent of these is Veriflora, admin­istered by SCS Global Services, a global third-party certification agency.

“Veriflora certification is really hard to get as a grower,” says Ha. “They rotate the lands and they treat their workers well. They have to control their pes­ticides and how they’re watering. We get all of our basic flowers from them year-round.”

Park Florist extends its sustain­able practices by recycling packaging and vases wherever possible and using 100 percent wind power to generate its electricity. The shop employs compact fluorescent bulbs and ENERGY STAR-rated coolers in its showroom.

Another eco-friendly local florist is Little Acre Flowers based in D.C. but operating only by mail in the Delmar, Virginia area. Little Acre employs an innovative method of promoting sustain­ability. The shop only offers a single arrangement per day, sourced from local farms. Offering only one product at a time cuts down on waste and allows the shop to focus on what’s fresh and seasonal.

Former USAID worker Tobie Whitman launched the company in 2013 after making a career shift into the floral industry and learning about the enormous environmental impact of the international flower market. She felt strongly that locally-sourced flowers could decorate the homes of her neigh­bors if they had an easy way to purchase blooms from nearby growers.

She purchases her flowers from D.C.-area providers like Wollam Gardens, Capital Flower Growers and Jenkins Farm. But the company’s green practices extend beyond the source of her wares. Instead of shipping her flow­ers in plastic, Whitman wraps bou­quets in re-purposed burlap donated by Mayorga Coffee, a local roaster. The enclosed note cards are made of recycled paper and printed using soy-based ink.

Next time you need a little decoration for your table, check out one of the area’s green florists. The knowledge that your flowers came from nearby farms and from shops using environmentally-friendly practices will make them smell all the sweeter.

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