THE campaign for churches to take a more sustainable approach to flower-arranging and to stop using floral foam — often sold under the name Oasis — in displays has been backed by the Bishop of Dudley, the Rt Revd Martin Gorick.
The Bishop, a self-confessed keen gardener, has used a website conversation with the Prince of Wales’s florist, Shane Connolly, to highlight the perils to the environment of the micro-plastics from which the foam is made.
Bishop Gorick said: “Like many, I love to see flower arrangements in church, and always admire the ingenuity and skill of flower-arrangers; however, I have recently been made aware of the damaging impact of floral foam.
“As a diocese, we are committed to playing our part in tackling the climate crisis, and stopping using floral foam is one change that we can make in the fight to reduce single-use plastics. The Royal Horticultural Society have now banned floral foam in their displays at shows, such as Chelsea and Malvern, and I urge churches to also take a lead in this area to ensure our wonderful floral displays are as sustainable as possible.”
In his conversation, Mr Connolly explains how floral foam is a by-product of the petrochemical industry. It crumbles easily into microscopic fragments that are not compostable. Oasis put into churchyard compost heaps is estimated to take up to 500 years to break down, and is still not bio-degradable. The foam is generally first soaked, and the waste water containing some of the microplastics is typically discarded into the sink or drain. That contaminates water sources, and ultimately can enter the human food chain.
He suggests that church flower-arrangers use deeper vessels filled with chicken wire to stand tall blooms — even ordinary buckets, which can be covered with ivy. The money saved by not using oasis could instead be spent on buying more suitable receptacles.
Alongside the alternatives to foam, Bishop Gorick’s conversation also explores the importance of using locally grown, seasonable flowers in church displays, thus avoiding the carbon footprint of cut flowers, such as roses, imported by air from sources as far away as Kenya.