Flowers that don’t cost the earth is the central idea behind the new online flower delivery company, Little Bud. “We care about the impact of our flowers on the environment and on the people that grow them, so responsible sourcing is at the heart of what we do,” they say.
Friends, Georgina Duffin and Laura Brummer, decided to start Little Bud to bring a fresh approach to delivering flowers so that they are beautiful, affordable yet ethically sourced. Their journey has evolved to bring an understanding about the significant human and environmental impact of the flower industry.
We spoke to Georgina and Laura to discover more about their business and how we can help the environment when buying flowers. But first they gave us some useful advice on how to reuse old flowers:
Dried – Big bunches of dried herbs and flowers are great for hanging in the kitchen.
Pressed – Individual dried or pressed flowers simply pinned on parchment paper can make stylish greeting cards and invitations. Silver leaves are especially attractive for this.
Preserved – Uncrushed petals in glass jars, including whole hydrangea heads, can be really striking. You can also make them into something usable, like putting them into candles or casting them into soaps with the petals floating inside.
Reused – For those feeling more adventurous, using your flowers for natural dyes, or even batik-style pressed to imprint the fabric, looks amazing – irises are particularly good for this and YouTube is certainly your friend.
Can you tell us more about Little Bud?
Our bunches are simple and arranged in a loose wild style that lets the natural beauty of the flowers speak for themselves. Every week we put the newly harvested bunch up on the site. You simply pick a size, where and when you’ll want them delivered and Little Bud will send them out on a bike or electric van. We currently deliver Monday to Friday across London but hope for our coverage to grow.
How does your business help the environment?
By sourcing from British farms as much as possible, we reduce the flower miles on every bunch. Our Fairtrade growers similarly practice responsible farming, including soil and water management. One partner farm in Kenya also uses empty passenger flights to send the flowers to the UK, reducing freighting impact. As we use seasonal flowers, this also means they have natural longevity and require less use of greenhouses.
At the design stage, we minimise waste by only offering one simple bunch a week, anticipating demand and selling on a ‘first come first served basis’ until we sell out. In traditional floristry some 40% of flowers are simply wasted. We’d never tolerate that with our food, so why with our flowers? By reducing our amount of unsold stock, we can pass on this efficiency to offer the best prices to our customers.
We also keep our packaging minimal and green. Our materials are recycled and recyclable. There are no plastic sachets for food and we give customers simple instructions to DIY their flower care at home. We deliver using bikes and electric vehicles and offset any of other carbon we produce.
What was your inspiration for starting Little Bud?
We started off quite simply just loving flowers and thinking about how we could send natural- looking bunches affordably to friends. The selection available with a small budget felt either outdated or impersonal. At the time, we worked together in international development, researching sustainability and running agricultural development projects across Africa. Given our day jobs, we were naturally curious about the flower industry and how we magically had such readily available flowers all year round. We quickly realised the flowers we’d been buying were not as rosy as they seemed.
“In traditional floristry some 40% of flowers are simply wasted. We’d never tolerate that with our food, so why with our flowers?”
In the UK, 90% of the flowers for sale are imported from overseas, often from farms where working conditions are dire, exploiting the majority female workforce whose livelihoods depend on the flowers we buy. Getting flowers closer to home is not much better. Flowers grown mostly in Holland’s greenhouses have five times the carbon footprint of those imported from Kenya.
Other than fossil fuels, cut flowers are likely to have the highest carbon footprint of anything else you consume in your house. Having seen this bigger picture, the seed of creating a flower company with a conscience was planted.
We are lucky that our mission to change the way we consume flowers in the UK means that we now spend our time surrounded by beautiful stems. Seeing them change with the seasons and experimenting with their shapes and colours is, for us, an unparalleled pleasure. When we get positive feedback from our customers, especially when they’ve bought our flowers for their sustainable origins, that really means a lot to us.
Do you have any other ideas on how people can be more environmentally conscious when it comes to flowers?
Apply the same instincts as you would have for your food; grow your own, buy seasonal, ask where the flowers come from. The provenance of flowers is harder to be sure of as it’s often not marked and even your florist may not know. With mixed bunches you can have stems from every corner of the globe. Buying British is, of course, a first preference for minimising flower miles and supporting UK farmers. If these aren’t an option, look out for marks including Fairtrade and Florverde which tell you they’ll have been sustainably sourced.
When ordering flowers, consider what they have been packaged in – avoid excessive wrapping, non-recyclable or non-compostable materials. Flowers are delicate cargo to transport, nevertheless less is certainly more.
Lastly, consider how they arrive. Having a carbon-emitting courier may counteract your emissions savings from where they have been sourced.
If you have a real interest in the industry, the National Farmers Union is a great repository for information on British flower growing, whilst internationally the Floriculture Sustainability Initiative (FSI) is taking a global perspective to improve practices in supply chains.
LITTLE BUD are launching their ethical flower delivery service on the June 19, during British Flowers Week.
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