Pilar Zuniga: Small Business Hero
Green and Growing Strong
While many florists have a green thumb, they don’t have a green footprint. This irony wasn’t lost on Pilar Zuniga, so she started Gorgeous and Green in Oakland, California, to change that.
Is it true that your wedding inspired you to start Gorgeous and Green?
Yes, when I was planning my wedding many years ago, there weren’t a lot of options to be more eco-friendly and sustainable in the floral industry. Unfortunately, a lot of florists are not being energy efficient. A lot of them have flowers shipped in from all over, but we live in California—a lot of flowers can be sourced locally or you can change your offerings seasonally.
Is it easy to save energy as a florist? How do you do it?
We’re an Alameda County Certified Green Business, so we do a lot. We use only recycled paper, partner with a bike cooperative (all our deliveries are by bicycle), and grow all our flowers locally—those are some big things. Our studio has three big doors that I open to keep it cool instead of using an air conditioner. It also has these great chandeliers that have over 120 bulbs that I switched out for LEDs.
“It can seem like such a drop in the bucket, but making an effort to be more sustainable and energy efficient as a business—that’s something that people see.”
Are you always looking for more ways to save even more energy?
Yes—I want to install a skylight to get more natural light into my studio. I only use the chandeliers now, but it would be nice to get more natural light. If I owned the building, I’d install solar. I’ve insulated my refrigerator to make it more efficient, but I’m planning on upgrading it in the future.
Have other florists picked up any of your wisdom?
I think so. I work with a lot of floral designers and try to do a one-on-one informational with them about everything I do differently. A lot of people I’ve been working with for a while see the importance of what I do. Recently a florist from Australia contacted me and wanted to know more about how to run their business more sustainably.
Is putting in the extra effort to be more efficient hard? Why do you bother?
You know, I’ve been doing this for so long that I don’t even question it anymore. It can seem like such a drop in the bucket, but making an effort to be more sustainable and energy efficient as a business—that’s something that people see. Hopefully that motivates other people somehow.