Reducing Waste at the Chelsea Flower Show: A Blossoming Effort

Flowers on display at the Chelsea Flower Show

The Chelsea Flower Show is not just a celebration of horticulture and design but also a showcase for sustainability and innovative waste management practices!

The Royal Horticultural Society (RHS), which organises the event, has implemented several strategies to minimise waste and promote recycling, making the show a model for eco-friendly large-scale events.

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London Bus on the way to the Chelsea Flower Show

Sustainable Practices at the Chelsea Flower Show

One of the key initiatives by Royal Horticulture Society (RHS) is its collaboration with A Greener Festival.

A Greener Festival, which is owned by A Greener Future, an organisation that helps events improve their environmental footprint.

Since 2018, the Royal Horticulture Society has been working towards making its shows more sustainable, with the Chelsea Flower Show at the forefront of these efforts.

Recycling and Chelsea Flower Show Waste Reduction

As one of the largest flower shows in the world, the Chelsea Flower Show incorporates numerous waste reduction strategies!

The Royal Horticulture Society (RHS) works with organisations like City Harvest which is a food charity in the UK, as well as House of Wayward which is a project dedicated to re-homing unwanted plants.

In 2023, thousands of plants, trees, and tonnes of gravel and soil were donated to local schools and community projects.

Food waste was also redistributed across charities in Greater London, which not only significantly reduced landfill contribution but helped out those most in-need.

To further enhance their recycling efforts, the RHS has introduced better waste separation systems at their shows, aiming to increase high-grade recycling rates!

By focusing on reuse and recycling, the RHS strives to reduce its total waste by 5% every year.

Ecofriendly Gardens at the Chelsea Flower Show

Many gardens feature sustainable materials and practices.

For example, the Pearlfisher Garden highlighted the impact of plastic waste on oceans, using recycled materials to create a powerful visual statement about environmental conservation.

Additionally, the Royal Horticulture Society (RHS) promotes the reuse of plants and materials from the show.

Exhibitors are encouraged to donate or recycle their displays.

By setting such high standards, the RHS not only enhances the visitor experience but also inspires positive change within the horticultural community.

Interested in this type of content? Read our blog on innovative ways to recycle flowers!

Picture of Candy Crush cabbage plus other flowers at the Chelsea Flower Show

The St James’s Chelsea Garden

A prime example of sustainable design is the St James’s Chelsea Garden, which emphasises the importance of urban green spaces for healing and reflection.

Designed by Robert Myers, this garden will be relocated to St James’s Piccadilly after the show, where it will continue to serve the community as a place of tranquillity and environmental education.

People looking at flowers at the Chelsea Flower Show

Royal Horticulture Society Sustainability Strategy

The RHS’s broader sustainability strategy aims to be net positive for nature and people by 2030.

This includes reducing single-use plastics, improving recycling rates at their events, and engaging the public in sustainable gardening practices.

The RHS also uses its platform to educate millions of visitors and viewers on the importance of looking after the environment and one’s own effect on the world around us.

Strategies for Sustainability at the Chelsea Flower Show

The RHS’s commitment to sustainability extends beyond just waste management.

Here are some key initiatives from their sustainability strategy:

  • Plastic Reduction:
    The RHS has banned single-use plastics, plastic carrier bags, and floral foam at all of their shows.

    They also encourage the use of recycled and environmentally friendly alternatives to materials like timber, plastic, and concrete.

  • Energy and Water Efficiency:

    Transitioning to biofuel generators has cut carbon emissions significantly.

    The use of LED lighting and vacuum system toilets, which save up to 90% water, are other notable efforts.

    At Chelsea, a borehole supplies water to reduce reliance on mains water.

  • Sustainable Travel:

    To reduce carbon footprints, the RHS promotes greener transport options and has switched to electric site utility vehicles.

    A Sustainable Travel Executive works with public transport providers to identify eco-friendly travel solutions for show attendees.

  • Exhibitor Practices:

    Exhibitors are required to source plants responsibly, avoid using peat, and create sustainable designs.

    Applications are rigorously reviewed for environmental impact, ensuring all gardens are eco-friendly.

  • Biosecurity:

    The RHS enforces strict plant health policies to prevent the spread of pests and diseases, supported by biosecurity training for exhibitors and checks by government agencies.

These initiatives reflect the RHS’s dedication to making their shows a platform for promoting sustainable gardening and environmental

Blue and purple flowers available to see at the Chelsea Flower Show

Interesting Facts about the Waste at the Chelsea Flower Show

  • Plant Donations: After the show, many plants are donated to hospitals, community gardens, and schools, supporting green spaces across the UK.

  • Sustainable Product Awards: The show includes awards for sustainable garden products, promoting innovation in eco-friendly gardening solutions

  • Education and Outreach: The Royal Horticulture Society runs various campaigns and educational programmes to encourage sustainable gardening, both at their shows and through their year-round initiatives.
Flowers to see at the Chelsea Flower Show stored in baskets


The Chelsea Flower Show’s commitment to sustainability not only beautifies our world but also creates and encourages a culture of environmental responsibility.

As the show continues to evolve, its efforts to reduce waste and promote recycling set a high standard for other events to follow.


  • When is the Chelsea Flower Show 2024?
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  • What are some must-see exhibits at the Chelsea Flower Show 2024?
  • What sustainable practices are in place at the Chelsea Flower Show?
  • How can I get to the Chelsea Flower Show?

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