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When it comes to environmental impact, the flower industry is often viewed through rose-coloured glasses. A bouquet seems like a thoughtful, beautiful, and biodegradable gift—but the carbon footprint is larger than it seems. Vancouverite Kamila Alikhani was disheartened by the garbage produced in the small flower shop where she worked, especially because her career in floristry was inspired by her drive to create beauty, not waste.
Alikhani was a business analyst for eight years, and started working in a flower shop part-time to scratch a creative itch. “I was always passionate about flowers, and I had the best time of my life working there,” she says, “but nothing was recycled, and it was heartbreaking.” Besides plant waste, Alikhani says flower shops also create a lot of plastic garbage (when wrapping bouquets), fossil fuel emission (when flowers are flown in from other parts of the world) and ocean pollution (when floral styrofoam dissolves into water). After learning the how-tos of working with flowers, Alikhani drew up a business plan of her own, and made sustainability her primary focus.
Last summer, she opened Bloomier, a local subscription flower delivery service. “The subscriptions are really the key to a zero-waste approach, because that allows us to source only the flowers that we need for each set of arrangements,” she says. There is no extra stock, and no flowers to be thrown away.
On top of that, Alikhani and her team also volunteer to collect “used” arrangements from larger orders (for example, corporate events and weddings) and deliver them to local hospices and senior homes. When bringing flowers, cakes and quality time to a friend in a hospice years ago, Alikhani was struck by the number of patients that weren’t receiving that same kind of support. “I thought, how terrible this is—you’re at the end of your life, and there is no joy there,” she remembers. Bloomier now donates their gently used flowers regularly, often on behalf of their corporate clients. “And we always leave a bouquet for the nurses and receptionist,” she adds.
Though those large events are obviously not happening right now, COVID has made a lot of folks value flowers more than usual—especially those who are isolated or apart from their loved ones. “People really appreciate them; sometimes the feedback that I get leaves me in tears,” says Alikhani. “We have never felt so emotional about flowers before.”
You can read more about Bloomier at bloomier.ca.