Preserving the Environment

Giving Flowers a Second Life

April 1, 2019
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Giving Flowers a Second Life
Jennifer Grove is fighting against floral waste.

As the founder of a luxury special events agency in Manhattan, Jennifer Grove took pride in providing her clients with flawless food, beautiful flowers and fabulous style elements. Yet she wasn’t prepared for the waste left behind by each gorgeous event — or how much it bothered her.

“No bride gets engaged and immediately begins to think about the combined volume of garbage that her bridal shower, engagement party, rehearsal dinner and wedding reception will create,” Grove allowed.

More often than not, “clients care about their one big day and the ‘wow’ factor it leaves on their guests,” said Grove, “not the lingering negative impact it might leave on the environment.”

But Grove couldn’t help but wonder if maybe someone should care.

One evening in 2012, after a wedding reception at Baltimore’s Four Seasons Hotel had ended, Grove found herself lugging carts filled to the brim with flowers to the loading dock to be thrown out. It was a frustrating moment. Cut flowers already come with a high environmental cost: Cultivating them uses up land, water and chemicals — and leaves a surprisingly large carbon footprint. After all that had been expended to create these elegant arrangements of roses, hydrangeas and peonies, hundreds of pounds of flowers were going to be unceremoniously dumped in a landfill.

Even worse, added Grove, “No one knew or cared, and the same thing was probably happening across the street at another hotel.”

She decided that she would be the person to change the conversation about floral waste.

In 2014, Grove founded Repeat Roses, a flower repurposing service. Immediately after a client’s special event, her team removes all the floral arrangements and carefully breaks them down into micro-bouquets. Within hours, they’re delivered to people who will benefit from the blooms, such as patients in hospices, cancer treatment centers and mental health facilities, or residents of homeless shelters. Repeat Roses staff later returns to pick up the twice-loved flowers to make sure they’re composted. The vases are even recycled and reused for the next delivery.

It’s a veritable bounty of beauty: Repurposed flowers from a wedding can range from roses, roses and more roses to phalaenopsis orchids, hydrangeas, ranunculus flowers and peonies. Corporate events can “re-gift” hundreds of pounds of greenery, branches, ivy and plants in addition to table centerpieces.

“No two events’ bounty is ever the same, which makes our jobs as matchmakers interesting,” Grove said. “We are flower logistics ninjas and we love it.”

In the past four years, Repeat Roses has delivered over 46,000 repurposed floral arrangements to facilities across the United States and Canada. This year, their service will become available in international cities and for destination weddings.

“As a parent, I aim to demonstrate for my 14-year-old daughter how I can make the world a better place,” said Grove. “One petal at a time, she sees how having a passion and taking personal responsibility for achieving your goals produces meaningful results for people and planet.”

Meet more environmental innovators here.

Article produced in partnership with Mirai, Toyota’s very own Vehicle of Change. The power to change the world belongs to everyone who dreams about what’s next. NationSwell and Toyota teamed up to find 10 environmental entrepreneurs who are building solutions today that will change the world tomorrow. 
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