Lynn Mehl, Good Old Days Eco Florist

Good Old Days Eco Florist
New Windsor, NY

The Eco Florist & Green Event Strategist
Why & How It Began
What started in 2001 after 15 years in business as an innocent, internet, quest for the ‘missing’ American Beauty rose, became more than I ever anticipated. The floral industry had evolved; against everything I believed in, advocated, and practiced. I didn’t remember when the wagon shifted and imported flowers took over, or that my entire industry was a toxic, environmental nightmare, inhumane, imported, and just totally unsustainable to country and planet. I found over 70% (now near 90%) of florist flowers & plants and almost 100 % of gift & hard goods were imported, with 99% neither socially just or earth friendly much less biodegradable. I was ashamed at my blindness and contribution- and devastated. I now knew that smell on the (sweatshop crafted) baskets was rat poison from the Asian shipping containers, and the floral arranging foam was a carcinogenic cocktail on formaldehyde laced plastic. My ‘nature’ thought of industry was no better than DuPont and all, slipping by the environmental regulators eye.
What I Did
I decided immediately I must change my business…or career. It took over 5 years but I knew to make it a success and a model for all florists; it had to be both a sustainable and profitable transformation while also not taking away from the consumer expectation. I started with the flowers, searching out US farms & growers across the country who would deal with me. I then moved on to transforming the entire business to one of what I coined an “eco florist”. From energy to water, to recycling & up cycling, to office supplies and packaging, US made and bio gifts, and hard goods. I looked at every single aspect of what a florist does and uses daily; either finding a substitute, a new method, or discontinuing its use or practice. I researched design methods & mechanics of the past, reintroducing them away from the floral/ styro foams, and plastics. These modern innovations cut florists labor, so greening returned that effort. 16 years ago, these changes were nearly overwhelming to tackle much less solve, and some yet are still a waiting game. I picked my battles, I evolved, and soon so did my business and the clients.
I am a small business advocate, I am a passionate artist, but my heart is always with the environment so, I then turned to how to use it for awareness and make a difference. I instituted:
- my ‘green floristry’ techniques –created a Recycle Rewards Program for all florist & event goods -started a Community Fundraising initiative - designed a Flowers For A Cause ecommerce donating all profits of each sale.

Media & Events
After transforming the business operations and products I took on the event side which are basically the same daily operations of a florist but hugely magnified. Event flowers & décor are one of the largest contributors to environmental damage yet the most not seen or just ‘overlooked’. Whether imported flowers, glues and plastics in the Rose Bowl parade or the same at a small birthday party; all use the same unsustainable components, mechanics, and imported products.
Celebrity wedding planners & designers and manufacturers of décor goods are the force propelling the endless landfill of foam shapes, plastic accessories, jewels, fabrics, ribbons, candles, containers, and it goes on. All imported, all cheaply made, one time use, and none earth friendly or socially just. Floral foam works just once, which is used by the 100’s of cases every day around the world. The toxic foam from our parents 1964 event is still in our soil-it never biodegrades. Education is the answer to green events. The cradle to grave equation and domino effect of one simple act or item is unknown and, kept quiet. Most do not know that orangutans (who have 97% the same DNA as us) are near extinct for the palm oil in their event candles, or that our national forests of white pine are being poached & sheared for the roping at their holiday parties which in turn effects the forest bird population. They do not know the floral foam is carcinogenic.

It is actually easy being green in many ways by just effort-however it is this effort that has lost to cheap and easy. With my methods; the client who has no interest for a green gift or event has the appeal of the promotion to their image and marketing, even if only greened by my products and actions behind the scenes for them. Sustainable purchases & events must be easy for the client, not harder or more expensive to catch on, and I feel it falls to the businesses & vendors to act otherwise why will the clients. Events, everyday occasions, and holidays really do not have to cost the planet and it is my mission to help transform my industry, my clients, and every florist I can.