January 23

What is Floral Foam? 5 Reasons to Switch to Sustainable Floral Foam Alternatives


Floral foam is a type of spongy, lightweight foam material commonly used by florists for arranging and presenting cut flowers. It is composed of polyurethane or styrofoam that has been treated with surfactants to make it easier for water and flower stem to penetrate the material.

Floral foam provides a base for arranging flowers, as an alternative to traditional methods of arranging flowers such as chicken wire, wooden blocks, or wet newspapers. Floral foam provides the arranger with the perfect base upon which they may build their designs with ease and precision.

Due to its porous nature, floral foam can be soaked in water, allowing cut flowers and foliage to draw moisture directly from the block. This eliminates the need for extra water distribution systems such as vases, making floral foam an ideal choice in order to prolong flowers’ life with minimal effort.

Floral foams are available in various shapes and sizes, depending on the intended design and size of the arrangement. The best way to ensure the longevity of the arrangement is to soak the foam in a solution containing an appropriate amount of flower food before adding any flowers or plants. This helps maintain freshness while extending the life of each stem.


What is Floral Foam Made of?

Floral foam is an important material for many floral designers, used to create beautiful and unique arrangements. This product is typically made of a blend of polystyrene and polyurethane with additives to create either dry or liquid foam. Dry floral foam bricks are composed of a solid plastic called polystyrene (popularly known as styrofoam) that has been melted down and foamed using a blowing agent. 

This creates a lightweight material that can hold up to forty times its weight in water, making it ideal for keeping fresh-cut flowers hydrated and lasting up to seven to ten days. These bricks typically come in one size, measuring 23 x 11 x 8cm, and the density of the foam is usually 1.45 – 1.60 lb/ft³, with a water absorption rate ranging from 30 – 75 seconds. Liquid floral foam, on the other hand, is made from polyurethane as its main ingredient along with a hardening agent to give it structure once it dries or cures.


5 Reasons to Switch to Sustainable Floral Foam Substitutes

Floral foam, a widely used material in flower arrangements, has been popular for its ability to hold up and support flowers and other decorative items. However, it is important to consider the impact that floral foam has on the environment. Switching to eco-friendly alternatives of floral foam is one way to reduce your environmental footprint and be more mindful of our planet’s well-being.


Floral Foam is Non-biodegradable

Despite its mossy texture and green hue, which may lead to it being mistaken as a natural product, floral foam is composed of plastic and is completely non-biodegradable.

Regular floral foam is made from polystyrene or styrofoam, both of which contain plastic components.

Despite claims that the foam can be recycled or reused, it has been found to only break down into small fragments instead of dissolving in its entirety. Even though these foam fragments may appear to have broken down over time, they are still unable to completely revert to their natural state. The regular floral foam has been found to last years in water with no degradation.


Florist Foam Produces Microplastics

Floral foam is commonly used in floral arrangements and other decorative projects. Unfortunately, this seemingly innocuous material has a darker side: it produces microplastics when it breaks down. Microplastics are small particles of plastic that measure less than 5 millimeters, are found in the environment, and have far-reaching effects on both human health and the environment.

When floral foam breaks down, it releases plastic particles into the soil, water systems, and atmosphere. This contributes to the already overwhelming amount of pollutants present in the environment, with an estimated 50-75 trillion pieces of plastic and microplastics already present in oceans worldwide. 


It Pollutes Water Supplies and Endangers Marine Life

The primary issue with floral foam is that when it breaks down, it releases microplastic particles into the air which can travel long distances and disperse frequently throughout our oceans and freshwater systems. These particles are then ingested by aquatic organisms, impacting their health and wellbeing


It Releases Toxins

This phenol formaldehyde foam is a plastic-based product manufactured in the form of green blocks and releases toxic chemicals into the environment. This includes hazardous compounds such as formaldehyde, barium sulfates, and carbon black. 

Prolonged exposure to these compounds can be dangerous, and irritating to the eyes, skin, and respiratory tract. Inhaling dust or fumes released by floral foam can cause serious respiratory issues, while prolonged skin contact may lead to hypersensitivity and contact dermatitis. 


It Contributes to Landfills and Promotes Global Warming

When the floral foam is discarded into landfills, it does not naturally break down as other items do over time. Instead, it remains intact and can create a large amount of waste that can take up valuable space. 

Furthermore, when this foam is left in a landfill environment, it releases various gases and pollutants into the air; thus contributing to global warming. This pollution can also be spread through water contamination if the foam floods local areas or rivers. 

Additionally, due to its composition from polyurethane plastics and other chemical compounds used for preservation, the disposal of floral foam has been linked to health risks for those living near landfills where it may be disposed of. 


How to Dispose of Florist Foam Responsibly

Disposing of floral foam can be difficult and can result in serious environmental contamination if it is not done correctly. Knowing how to dispose of this material properly is essential for ensuring its safe disposal and minimizing its environmental impacts. This guide provides the information needed to safely get rid of floral foam. 

The best way to dispose of floral foam is to place it in landfill-bound rubbish. The floral foam should never be put in compost or garden waste, nor should water containing fragments of foam be poured down sinks, toilets, or drains. 

To prevent fragments of foam from entering the environment, pour the remaining water through an old pillowcase, cloth, or tea towel before disposing of it safely. This will capture as many pieces as possible and ensure they are not released into the environment. The strained water can then be poured into a hole in the garden, allowing it to naturally filter back into the soil rather than entering any local bodies of water or sewage systems. 

If you have more than a small amount of floral foam left over after use, consider separating it and sealing it into two separate plastic bags before disposing of them together with other landfill-bound material. 

This helps to keep all the bits together so that they do not become dispersed during their journey from your home to landfill sites and reduces the risk that pieces will end up contaminating other areas like compost or waterways. 

When dealing with leftover water from floral foam, always wear protective gloves. Floral foam contains chemicals that could irritate if they come into contact with skin or eyes, so using appropriate protective gear is important for safety during disposal. Additionally, make sure that all scraps are completely dry before disposing of them to minimize any potential contamination risks associated with their decomposition. 

Although some people may attempt to burn floral foam instead of disposing of it responsibly, this practice should generally be avoided whenever possible due to air pollution concerns related to potentially toxic chemicals contained within this material released into the atmosphere when burned. 

By following these steps for proper disposal, individuals can help minimize further damage to ecosystems and protect wildlife from the harm caused by floral foam contamination.


Final Thoughts

Floral foam is instrumental to support flower arrangements, however, it’s critical to replace this material with eco-friendly alternatives. Eliminating floral foam usage might be the first step. Oasis floral foam is just one of the several options available that can help make a positive impact on the environment.


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