Moss as a Floral Foam Substitute
Florists are looking for alternatives to (single use plastic) floral foam. Moss can be a great option in some cases; I find it especially helpful for installations, arches, and the like. I live in the Pacific Northwest. Our wet forests grow a lot of moss! This makes it a sensible choice for me. There are a few sustainability issues to consider regarding moss as a floral foam substitute. Let’s dig in.
Is it okay to harvest moss?
One of the biggest concerns I hear is whether it is environmentally sound to harvest moss from forests. This is an important question! I do NOT encourage anyone to run out to their local woodlot or park and grab up all the moss. Rather, work with your wholesaler to source moss from permitted, responsible, professional foragers. These people should have permits and be educated in how to responsibly harvest so as to preserve to moss population. Alternatively, you can contact the USDA or your local Department of Agriculture or Forest Management to get your own permit. Be a responsible forager; educate yourself on the proper way to harvest without depleting this precious resource.
Moss is a renewable and reusable resource
The fact that moss is a renewable resource makes it great to use as a floral foam substitute. Moss is very slow growing, and can take 2 – 3 years to recover/regrow. We must show respect for this material and use it wisely. True sustainability requires we conserve our resources and take a zero-waste or minimal waste approach. Take the time to deconstruct your pieces after use so that you can salvage your moss mechanics and use them again and again. Let the moss dry and then store. To use again you simply soak and you are ready to go. This not only conserves moss but also your time! You only need to make this mechanic once and you can use it for multiple events. I like combining moss and chicken wire for an enduring and adaptable mechanic called a Moss Roulade.
Substitutes for moss as a natural floral mechanic
Moss may not be a fit for every florist everywhere. Florists working in arid places may not have a local source of moss. For these folks the carbon footprint of transporting moss might feel at odds with the goals of a sustainable business. There are other natural mechanics to consider, such as twigs or excelsior. It is important to look around you for a local resource or waste product that you can use. Think of the role that foam or moss plays in your work: as a source of water or of humidity, and as a matrix to hold your stems. Look for similar properties in other materials. Twigs, excelsior, paper toweling, eco-fresh bouquet wraps, and test tubes can all be helpful. There may well be other solutions – if you find something, I hope you will share with our floral community!
Want to learn more about how to use moss to make a foam-free floral mechanic? Read this post!