The Farewell Flowers Directory launched

Launching this week, is the first online service to connect people to independent funeral florists offering natural, beautiful and compostable floral arrangements across the UK

Natural flowers for a funeral
credit: The Farewell Flowers Directory

Coincide with Dying Matters Awareness Week (6th-13th May), the newly launched Farewell Flowers Directory is a positive, practical response to the significant issue of plastic waste generated in the funeral floristry. The new online directory, is on a mission to change the world of funeral flowers one compostable arrangement at a time.

By demonstrating just how beautiful naturally designed funeral flowers can be without the use of floral foam or single use plastic, The Farewell Flowers Directory aims to change perceptions of funeral floristry and eliminate the plastic from funeral flowers for good.

At the Queen’s funeral in Westminster Abbey last year, millions were struck by the gentle beauty of the floral wreath decorating her coffin. Not only were the flowers seasonal, colourful and handpicked from the gardens of the royal estates to convey personal and symbolic meaning, but the wreath had been made in a sustainable way without the use of floral foam or single use plastic – a landmark moment for the floristry industry.

Floral foam is plastic

Floral foam has become a significant environmental issue. Unbeknown my many, floral foam is a single-use plastic, cannot be recycled, will never biodegrade and breaks down into microplastics contaminating soil and watercourses. Reportedly, it’s estimated that every year over 14,670m3 of floral foam (and single use plastic) are sent to landfill from crematoriums across the UK – the equivalent of more than 6 Olympic sized swimming pools. Invented in the 1950’s, floral foam served as a quick way to secure flowers in flower arrangements and was since widely adopted by the floristry industry.

“An unsustainable circle has evolved in funeral flowers over recent decades, and it’s going to take the combined efforts of funeral directors, florists and consumers to break it. Funeral Directors are focused on providing a caring, dignified service to the bereaved. Most will present a set menu of foam-based floral tributes to their clients and florists find themselves obliged to recreate those designs, even though they may personally prefer to work in a more environmentally sustainable way. Cemeteries, churchyards and crematoria are left to deal with a mountain of plastic floral foam and single use plastic. Mourners at their services assume the rigid foam-based arrangements on the coffins of the deceased are the only option, and so they select the same thing when they are bereaved and so the cycle rolls on”, explains Gill Hodgson.

Julie Dunk, Chief Executive of the Institute of Crematorium and Cemetery Management (ICCM) said: “We recognise that floral tributes can be an important part of a funeral and beautiful displays can bring great comfort to bereaved families. However, as with everything in life, we need to consider our environmental impact and make choices where possible to minimise this impact. Once the flowers have wilted, cemeteries and crematoria are left with the plastics which can become litter, and which our members have no option but to skip and send to landfill. Reducing the amount of plastic in the form of floral foam and bases for displays, as well as wrappings such as cellophane, will have a positive impact on not only the environment but also on the costs of dealing with these non-biodegradable materials. It is great that there is now a real choice through the Farewell Flowers Directory and people can choose floral displays that reflect their wishes whilst protecting the environment. The ICCM welcomes this excellent initiative and would encourage anyone looking for local florists to help them create a meaningful floral tribute to use the Directory.”

The Directory

The Farewell Flowers Directory is the brainchild of the floral duo, Gill Hodgson and Carole Patilla. Hodgson runs Fieldhouse Flowers in Yorkshire, and is the founder of Flowers from the Farm. Patilla, runs Tuckshop Flowers in Birmingham.

“In founding The Farewell Flowers Directory, we aim to break the chain. We want to make people aware of the many talented florists creating fully compostable, plastic-free floral designs and inspire more florists to make the switch. This year will see funeral flowers beautifully displayed and discussed in the media and the public will see them first hand at regional shows and events. We want to demonstrate just how beautiful, personal and sustainable funeral flowers can be”, added Hodgson.

The florists listed in the new UK-wide directory, can provide compostable funeral flowers which are made without plastics and plastic-derived floral foam, and which will always include some UK grown flowers or foliage.

See the Farewell Flowers Directory for more information, to sign up to the directory as a florist, or to find flowers for loved ones.