Valentine’s Day is coming up. Time to start ordering flowers, chocolates and other tokens of affection. Before you make a purchase, take a few extra moments to think about the social and economic impact. Today I have some information about flowers.
The flower business has a horrible reputation for mistreating their employees. Women and young people represent a majority of the employees, as they are easily exploited and have smaller hands to handle the flowers with. They are often sprayed with pesticides while working, denied bathroom breaks, time off to care for family members or themselves, and physically mistreated. It is basically like mill and factory conditions were in the US and Europe 100 years ago. We like to think we are past that phase of our history, but really we have just outsourced it to third world countries.
The solution? Look for labels such as fair-trade certified, Flower Label Program, and Certified Organic. Farmers markets often have local growers who you can ask about their growing practices. Or grow your own Organic Flowers.
Here are a few links to get you started.
Frontline has a 10 minute video about fair trade flowers focusing on Nevado Growers in Ecuador.
Learn about the Flower Label Program by visiting their website.
Visit the Fair Trade Certified website for information on growing practices and where you can buy flowers.
Fair Trade only applies to products made or grown in third world countries. For flowers grown in the US or Canada, look for Veriflora Certified, showing that they were sustainably grown, while not necessarily organic, this is a good option.
A few websites selling fair-trade and/or organic flowers:
California Organic Flowers
Organic Style has flowers and other stuff like tasty treats, clothes, and baby gifts.
Large sites such as 1-800-flowers and FTD are starting to offer fair-trade and organic flowers.
Your local florist may have options as well. If they don’t, let them know you’ll wait until they do before you buy more flowers from them. I just read that Sam’s club has fair-trade certified flowers.