Recycle Your Valentine's Flowers to Brighten Someone Else's Day

©. Random Acts of Flowers

These organizations recycle your leftover flowers into new bouquets for healthcare and hospice patients.

Fresh flowers can be a beautiful way to celebrate friends, family, or loved ones, and can bring a touch of color to events, but all too often, they get tossed before the end of their useful life. And just as with any perishable product, there's a lot of waste involved in the industry, due to the desire by florists to only sell unblemished flowers and greenery, which means that flowers with some life left to them often end up getting pitched.

But those imperfect flowers and aging bouquets can get a second life, thanks to two organizations that are recycling and repurposing them to help bring joy to people in healthcare and hospice facilities.

The Bloom Project, an Oregon nonprofit which began its mission in 2007, receives unsold flowers and donations from florists and distributors, as well as leftover flower arrangements from events, and its volunteers then create new bouquets from them, which are designed to last another full week in the room of a hospice patient.

"We have the privilege of creating beautiful bouquets (utilizing donated flowers and vases) to brighten and bring joy to someone’s day. The volunteer experience allows each individual to participate in a “random act of kindness” while healing from their own loss of a loved one – giving back to those in hospice care because they understand the importance of this stage of life, for the patient & the family." - The Bloom Project

Originally operating in and around Bend, Oregon, The Bloom Project has since expanded to Portland, OR, and Granite Bay, CA, and has given some 78,000 bouquets to hospice patients in more than 20 facilities from its three locations. Find out how you can donate flowers, time, or money to this organization at its website.

The founder of Random Acts of Flowers, Larsen Jay, received "dozens of floral arrangements" from visitors in the hospital after a serious accident, and saw that while this show of support aided his own recovery, many other patients did not have either visitors or flowers. Jay repurposed some of his own flowers into arrangements for other patients in nearby rooms, and saw how touching these "random acts of flowers" were to those patients, so he founded the nonprofit Random Acts of Flowers (RAF) the next year.

"Random Acts of Flowers recycles and repurposes flowers by engaging dedicated volunteer teams to deliver beautiful bouquets and moments of kindness to individuals in healthcare facilities across the country." - RAF

RAF partners with florists, grocery stores, funeral homes, and recycles and reuses every part of the flower arrangements that comes to them, including the vase, ribbons, foam, and other elements, turning them into completely new bouquets. According to its website, the organization has donated 61,312 bouquets, recycled some 70,000 vases, and composts all the leftover wilted flowers and clippings at a community garden. RAF has locations in five cities in the US, with more planned, and welcomes your donations of time, money, or flowers.

The next time you get flowers, or use them for an event, consider donating them afterwards to one of these great organizations so they can get a second life and bring joy to an ill or end-of-life patient.