Organizations that recycle wedding flowers
"Love the world through flowers."
It's a beautiful statement, isn't it? My favorite thing about those words is their ambiguity. They can apply to so many people in various careers, from multiple backgrounds. The phrase is not prejudiced. It is not proud. It is not unkind. It's limitless. Flower farmers, shop owners, event florists, flower artists, floral jewelry makers, flower nonprofits, and even children merely gathering weeds for their mothers. We all have this in common: we are using the beauty of nature to spread love and joy to a world that desperately needs it. It matters, and it makes a difference!
We often spend a lot of time admiring the work of others in our industry, but typically, that adoration is limited to other designers or other farmer florists - those in our immediate circle. One aspect of the floral industry that is commonly overlooked is the floral nonprofit sector. These organizations work incredibly hard and receive little recognition for the feats they accomplish, yet they continue to press on because they believe in what they do. They have huge hearts, and both their work and their stories are remarkably inspiring! Take some time to read about and be encouraged by a few of them below.
The Reflower Project
The Reflower Project is a South of Boston based flower repurposing service that serves the South Shore and Boston area. The organization is run by volunteers who pick up, repurpose and deliver one-time event flowers to community centers such as non-profits, shelters, nursing homes, elder centers, cancer centers, and food pantries. The Reflower Project is dedicated to reusing beautiful flowers to bring happiness to others. The flowers are generously donated from weddings, charity events, banquets and other events where the blooms would be discarded.
How it works: The Reflower Project partners with florists, wedding event planners, or directly with wedding parties interested in donating their flowers. They then schedule a convenient time for to pick up the blooms at the venue, refresh and repurpose the flowers into mason jars if necessary, and deliver them to a local nonprofit center. These locations have patients, residents, or members who are thrilled to receive this simple act of kindness and beauty. The Non-Profit recipient then gives a tax donation receipt to the wedding party, and photos of the successful delivery are emailed to the married couple for confirmation. It's a wonderful first gift as a married couple, and the flowers can continue to bring joy and happiness after the event.
Since April Churchill founded this organization in late 2015, thousands of flowers have been delivered to locations all over the South Shore and Boston, especially to places whose recipients are the most vulnerable. It all began by April taking her daughters and nieces to a nursing home to pass out homemade holiday cards. She decided to take it one step further by contacting local stores and wedding venues for flowers, and now the Reflower Project impacts the lives of hundreds of people in the South Shore area. You can follow their story on Instagram, or visit their website to learn more.
Bouquets of Kindness
Bouquets of Kindness was founded in the summer of 2016 in Jacksonville, Florida with the mission of re-purposing donated flowers into prearranged bouquets and delivering those to seniors living in assisted care, memory care, and hospice. While those flowers were a welcomed “pick me up," the organization found the arrangements didn’t do much to break the cycle of depression and loneliness we continually witnessed in the senior communities.
So, the mission has changed! Bouquets of Kindness now takes donated flowers in buckets and allow the seniors to create their own bouquets! This has been a real game changer. They have found that designing bouquets brings residents out of their rooms and apartments, allows them to be creative, and in many cases, provides an opportunity to meet their neighbor for the first time. It lifts the cloud of depression and starts nostalgic conversations about when they had gardens or about the flowers from their wedding bouquets. They’ve heard some say that this is the first time they’ve ever had “real” flowers.
With flowers donated from weddings, wholesalers, events, and supporters like Team Flower, Bouquets of Kindness has been able to allow seniors to create over 10,000 Bouquets of Kindness. They strongly encourage others to gathers some friends and some flowers and visit the local senior facility to listen to their tales while they get to be creative. Their stories are everything!
Random Acts of Flowers: Knoxville
In July 2007, Random Acts of Flowers’ founder, Larsen Jay, was in a near-fatal accident. He credits the outpouring of support he received in the form of daily visitors and dozens of floral arrangements while in the hospital as a key to providing the emotional lift and encouragement that helped him persevere through the multiple surgeries and challenging recovery process he faced. When Larsen was capable of leaving his room, he noticed how many of his fellow patients did not have visitors or flowers – the very thing that helped him so much in those early and difficult days. The first “Random Act of Flowers” delivery was made moments later as Larsen repurposed his flowers and delivered them from his wheelchair. The memories of how a simple gesture touched his fellow patients compelled Larsen to form Random Acts of Flowers in 2008.
RAF Knoxville improves the emotional health and well-being of individuals in health care facilities by delivering recycled flowers, encouragement and personal moments of kindness. Staff and volunteers collect donated flowers from weddings, memorial services, special events, churches, and grocery stores to recycle and repurpose them into beautiful bouquets for delivery to patients in area hospitals, assisted living homes, and hospice centers, as well as individuals served by community health organizations.
The organization serves approximately 1,250 people per month with a small 2 person paid staff and a core group of more than 250 committed volunteers. Since RAF Knoxville’s inception in 2008, they have touched more than 88,000 lives through the delivery of donated flowers by a kind visitor, and they have recycled more than 102,000 vases. To support RAF Knoxville, visit their website and follow them on Instagram @randomactsofflowers .