Cut Carbon (not Flowers) for Valentine’s Day

Cut out cut flowers this Valentine’s Day, and you’ll do you part in cutting out carbon.

The cut flower industry is among those that raise the ire of the thoughtful environmentalist. Nearly three of every four cut flowers sold in the US are imported, and a large chunk of those come from South America. Colombia and Ecuador are large growers and exporters of roses, and flowers can be flown in from as far as Europe.

Following those flowers leads one to the unhappy knowledge of all that’s involved in their life cycle, from seed to vase. It’s symbolic of our throw away society that many don’t consider the tremendous waste that’s part and parcel of bringing those flowers to market.

Because cut flowers are especially perishable, they must be flown in over long distances to avoid spoilage. That’s quite a carbon footprint for a product that under best conditions will last a week or so.

Buy Live and LocalThe US government has some say in what pesticides can be sprayed on food crops. Not so with flowers, as they’re not a particularly popular food product.  One can also safely assume that spraying habits and controls concerning chemical pesticides and fertilizers are somewhat less stringent in developing countries.

The health of the environment in these growing areas often takes a back seat to the potential profits gleaned from flower sales, with workers and waterways assuming the brunt effects of pesticide and fertilizer spraying.

Yet as always, the choice isn’t whether to give or not to give, to do harm or do without. Rather, it’s the diligence required to discover and decide how we can satisfy wants and needs in a way that won’t mean murder on our ecosystem.

If you have an allergic aversion to wasting dirty fuels and using harmful chemicals, adopt an idea listed below to give Valentine’s Day flowers that show you’ve a crush on the planet as well.

The greenhouse is a centuries-old method of growing in colder or adverse climates, and there’s likely one near you. Doesn’t get more local than that.

Need further selling?  Giving live and local is also a potential source of brownie points, Romeo(a). Tell him or her that, like your relationship, you wanted the flowers you give to last and grow.

Note also that you are not adopting a dog that will pee on your rug and beg to be walked at dawn. Just plop your live and locals near a window and add water every few days. They’ll clean and sweeten your air supply, and excrete only useful oxygen.

Directing your hard earned dollars toward more eco responsible flowers is a powerful statement you can make for the environment, as you’re speaking the universal language of profit. As long as flowers flown from faraway foreign lands are profitable, the practice will continue.

There will surely come a time in the near future when the growing scarcity of oil drives fuel prices so high as to make flower flights prohibitive, but that time is not now. So it falls to us to speak with our wallets on behalf of the planet.

Yet don’t stop there. Communicate with your voice as well as your greenbacks. Ask your local florist (the owner or manager) before you buy for your Valentine whether they sell flowers still among the living. This can be an interesting and informative exercise.

Live flowers growing in soil may in fact turn out to be an outlandish and eccentric concept to those who sell flowers for a living. Kindly inform them that the natural tendency and desire of flowers is, in fact, to live and grow, and that you wished they had live and locally grown flowers to sell.

Politely inform them that your search for live flowers must therefore take you elsewhere.  Few things motivate a business person like the idea of needlessly lost sales. Our desire here is not to put a flower shop out of business, but to motivate its operator to offer a more sustainable alternative.

One wishes concern for the environment was equally as compelling as profit, but alas. Yet the savvy environmentalist uses all available implements within one’s garden tool bag.  Happy V-Day

Photo Credit (Flowers) http://flickr.com/photos/indy138/2667297356/

Video Credit (YouTube) http://www.givingplants.com/flowervideo.html

  1. Ruth Smith

    HA! Just posted the same message to our readers on our blog. I’ve been getting plants (for vday) I can put in my garden come spring for years now. You can get two or more plants for the price of a dozen roses. You can buy a whole rose bush. Buy from a local vendor/farmer/greenhouse that uses organic methods-encourage your florist to do the same.

  2. Guy With Apple Ipod Accessories

    I don’t know,

    It just seems that in the grand scheme of things, reducing the purchase of cut flowers is pretty insignificant when it comes down to it; especially with all of the fuels and energy that automobile factories are burining up. That’s not even mentioning the hundreds of thousands of other industrial businesses out there. I think that you’re living a pipe dream if you think that any one person can make a significant change in the reduction of carbon. I think the awareness needs to start with industrial factories first.

    Just my opinion.

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