It is officially autumn and it certainly feels like it, with cool cloudy days and a persistent Northerly airflow. It has been a challenging year, with persistent frosts throughout April setting things back then some very strong winds just as things were growing strongly, only to be blown over and damaged.
I am not complaining too bitterly though, given what many people are having to contend with. As I write, a hurricane has wreaked havoc in Mississippi, where the power was down for some time and now it has effected New York, causing floods in which people have died. These are just the latest reported events and we have seen so many floods, droughts and wildfires affecting people all over the world.
It is time for Government to instigate radical changes and not in 10 or 20 years' time. The problem is, governments are always thinking of the next election and any govt. which introduces unpopular legislation will not be re-elected next time around. Measures which seriously address climate change will be unpopular with many people as we will have to behave and consume very differently compared to now.
We must all try to live more sustainably and it is not easy. There are many dilemmas such as asking oneself whether not flying and depriving oneself of a foreign holiday will really make any difference when thousands of flights a year come and go from our airports fully laden, with many people frequently popping over to European cities for a weekend booze-up. A "frequent flyer" tax has been mooted but is that fair as it means wealthy people can continue to fly whenever they like whilst others cannot. A rationing system might be fairer but not easy to impose and who can say whether any particular flight is "justified" or not?
Imported flowers are flown to Europe from across the world and have a massive carbon footprint. Whilst some exporters look after their employees and the environment, many dont and their flowers contain huge amounts of toxic insecticides which cause serious health issues and birth defects.
British flowers are more eco-friendly than most imported ones because of the humanitarian issues and the air miles.
As for "offsetting", this reminds me of "indulgences", the meaning of which is described on britannica.com like this... "an indulgence was a reduction of all or part of the punishment of a sin. In the Middle Ages indulgences were earned by doing good deeds, such as joining the Crusades. But by the late 1400s the Church gave indulgences in exchange for money."
The moral is...dont do the "sin" in the first place, you cant cancel it with money (or by planting some trees).
I market my business as "sustainable" and I try to live my life that way, but I still feel concerned for example about the amount of single use plastic in my trash from both business and domestic sources but it is quite difficult to avoid plastic packaging entirely and recycling has its own carbon footprint.
Now we have been here for over a year, we have our own home-made compost but I still need to buy in seed and potting compost for starting seeds off. At least we re-use the bags many times over when weeding, deadheading and moving green waste around the field.
I never use floral foam, (which gives off greenhouse gasses and micro plastics when degrading) there are bio-degradable alternatives, it simply needs a little more thought and creativity.
My flowers are wrapped in paper usually tied with jute twine and/or raffia. Wreaths are packaged in cardboard boxes and I mostly use brown paper sticky tape.
The jury is out on cellophane, I purchase rolls which are marketed as plant-based and bio-degradeable but I have seen it argued that it is not true, so when my current stock is finished I will use alternative ways to keep bouquets hydrated for delivery, such as jam jars that fit inside the presentation boxes.
I never use chemical pesticides (which kill both pests and beneficial insects). I have resorted to spraying with detergent solution against aphids in the past but I think by allowing predators like wasps to thrive on the field, pests have been kept in check and I have found this year that simply "squishing" bugs with my fingers when I see them, they have been kept in check. (Yes I know thats gross - I gave up on nice nails long ago).
Upturned pots on sticks, stuffed with straw are efficient earwig earwig traps and one simply has to despatch them (which I dont enjoy - there are few things that it gives me satisfaction to kill).
We also see quite a few frogs and toads among the flower beds and of course they eat slugs. There is a huge variety of birds here which we absolutely love watching and many of them are insect eaters.
We see quite a few ladybirds but if we find the aphid population growing, I know where to source ladybird larvae to increase the bug-eating population.
Most of my roses have black spot but it doesnt matter as it only affects the leaves and they are are usually removed when the flowers are cut, and the flowers are still beautiful. There is an organic treatment called Uncle Tom's rose tonic but I have not used it so far. The plants are generally strong and productive as they are fed with seaweed solution at least 3 times a season.
Neither my polytunnel or greenhouse are heated yet they stay wonderfully warm inside in winter and give me a super early crop of ranunculus, anemones and stocks.
Finally, the question of transport. I would love to say I have a little electric runabout but I dont. I will have to sell a lot more flowers before that becomes a reality. In mitigation, I do deliver on foot to addresses in Tintinhull and I also do errands, dog-walks, shopping etc when out delivering. I do very little other driving as growing flowers is a 7-day a week business, but despite that, the car without which I could not run my business, must be easily the least sustainable aspect of it.
I guess we should just keep doing as much as possible to protect our planet and being thoughtful about our purchasing choices.
To that end, buying Seasonal British Flowers is a good thing.