Of all the commerically-fueled holidays, Valentine’s Day continually wins the prize for the most contrived. However, can be hard to remain stoically opposed to a holiday designed to encourage gestures of romance and flirtation.
If you’re going to use this holiday as an excuse to be extra sweet to your significant other, you might be considering the grand gesture of presenting him or her with a bunch of freshly cut roses or other flowers.
While it’s the thought that counts, purchasing commercially grown flowers could be one of the most thoughtless acts you could commit, as far as the environment is concerned.
“Contrary to its symbolism, the reality of a cut flower’s life is not nearly so romantic [as one might believe]. No where is this dichotomy between beauty and danger more evident than in the Smith River flood plain along California’s North Coast. Nearly 200,000 pounds of pesticides are used annually in the 11 square mile growing area. Many of the chemicals used are probable human carcinogens, highly toxic to fish, or known to contaminate groundwater” (Center for Ethics and Toxins).
With more than 43,000 floral retailers are gearing up for the Valentine’s Day season in the United States alone, the potential impact of this industry one the health of the natural environment is staggering.
And the negative consequences of that innocent bunch of tulips doesn’t stop there.
The International Labor Rights Fund has found that the rampant overuse of chemical pesticides (including some that restricted by law in the United States and Europe) in the cut flower industry is having detrimental effects on the health of field workers responsible for growing and harvesting.
Green Lifestyle Magazine reports that, in the flower industry, “pesticide poisoning is responsible for neurological problems, birth defects, miscarriages, and more. The combination of toxic exposure, human rights abuses, and environmental contamination in the flower industry is a sad and ugly example of greed and mistreatment.”
The magazine goes on to state that, “the International Labour Rights Forum created the ‘Fairness in Flowers Campaign‘ back in 2003 to combat the problems that have plagued workers in the cut flower industries in Columbia and Ecuador.”
If you really think that nothing will get your loved one sqealing with delight as much as a fresh bunch of perfectly arranged flowers, there are environmentally conscious, fair trade options: but you have to know where to find them.
Care2′s Cait Johnson recently reported on additional reasons to only support fair trade, organic flower producers, and included a handy list of retailers for purchasing low-impact bouquets.
And to find local organic growers (even better!), see Local Harvest.
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