Fair Flowers Fairer Business – The Rise of Ethical Flowers
This June in the UK was recorded as having the highest rainfall level of the last fifty years (ie since records began!). Surprisingly, last year The Met Office issued warnings of high temperatures and continued hot weather during the same period. We had the hottest April on record ever this year. All very odd.
It is tempting to say that we’re seeing the environmental impact of our lifestyles from preceding years. Issues related to environment and climate change have grabbed headlines in the media recently. It is imperative for businesses such as ours to respond proactively to environmental concerns.
The last few years have seen a spate of initiatives to encourage environmental responsibility in business. And while the environment remains a central theme, it is equally important for businesses to be ethically aware. In the prequel to this blog, Samwise detailed Arena’s recent choice in Server Space, a decision in the ethical trade arena that we’re proud of. But as a business offering fresh cut flowers, we have to be well equipped to counter even tougher challenges to protect the environment. But if you want to see how I ended up holding this shiny new certificate, read on!
At Arena Flowers, we are committed to nurturing an ethical and sustainable business. Arena realised the importance of sustainable practices right from the inception; it will always be one of our top priorities and we strive hard every day to improve our ethical and environmental credentials. At the same time, we believe consumer choice and spending power are equally important in any drive towards sustainability. Therefore it is vital for us to make our customers aware of the social costs of our business and to know who they are dealing with when they buy from Arena, so that they understand the processes we have in place to lessen adverse impacts of our business on the environment.
Since we launched our business in September 2006, we have had a few firsts. The ones we enjoy the most are the ones which recognise our efforts to be an environmentally aware business. ArenaFlowers was the first florist in the UK to be accredited by Fair Flowers Fair Plants (FFP), a standard in the flower industry which regulates and monitors the entire supply chain including the use of pesticides, land, energy and the working environment. We are also the first florists in the UK to be accredited as an Ethical Company by the Ethical Company Organisation, having scored highly in the overall analysis of Corporate Social Responsibility, including environment and people. Apart from this,we have also embraced the following initiatives in each of our business process:
- Our flowers come direct from the flower auction in Holland through the channel tunnel to our single London distribution point and then go directly to our customers. Our flowers are not air freighted in energy intensive refrigeration units to reduce CO2 emissions.
- Within M25: we use our own vans and to cut down emissions, we have even trialed electric vans. We also have a moped for delivering flowers in central London. Both of these initiatives are aimed to cut down emissions.
- Outside M25: we use Parcelforce (they are right next door to us), to leverage their distribution efficiencies, rather than to attempt to produce a more efficient system ourselves. They are going to be offering a carbon neutral distribution option soon, which we will adopt as soon as it is available.
- Boxes: the flowers for outside M25 go in boxes. These are made from 90% recycled cardboard.
- Flowers: As mentioned above, we are the first UK florist to sell Fair Flowers Fair Plants (FFP) accredited flowers.
- Drinks and chocolates: As part of our range, we offer organic wines and chocolates.
- Greetings cards: Our greetings cards, including our standard cards, are printed on sustainable board and printed using vegetable-based inks. We receive them in biodegradable wrappers.
- We’re a new company, so are looking to set up recycling etc. Our product and purchasing officer, Ronald, will be attending a course to be qualified in environmentally sound waste management to roll this out more comprehensively.
- We have migrated to new carbon neutral servers by Rackspace.
- We don’t currently run an official carbon offsetting scheme, though I hope you can see that we’re trying in many areas.
- We are also inviting quotes on running an environmental audit of our business. We will soon have an energy review done by Energy Solutions.
- We have participated at ABN Amro’s environmental awareness day on 5th June 2007 for their 3k UK employees, share what we’re doing and to learn from the other exhibitors.
This is just the beginning to our ethical roadmap and we know we have a long way to go. Every one of us at Arena has been dreaming up new initiatives to improve and develop our ethical commitment, but if you have any bright ideas or contacts please email us at feedback at ArenaFlowers.com. I can assure you that we WILL do our best to build the new age – the age of truly ethical flowers!