I’ve got a confession… I love cut flowers. I love them from my husband. I love them for table decoration and centerpieces. I love to give them to my Nana. Why is this a bad thing you’re asking? Well, because they are one of the least environmentally friendly ways to say “I love you” or “Welcome!”.
Approximately 78% of cut flowers imported to North America are grown in Columbia and Ecuador where the climate is better suited for year round growing. This distance from grower to market means that flowers are not only shipped a great distance in refrigerated trucks, but also treated with a variety of pesticides and fungicides and preservatives to guarantee that the flowers arrive in the best shape possible. According to a 2007 study conducted by the International Labor Rights Forum, 20% of the chemicals used to treat cut flower crops are banned in North America and the European Union. This means that both the environment and the workers producing cut flowers are exposed to chemicals we have deemed unacceptable and dangerous. Typically workers in these industries are women and children, which historically have been the victims of workplace hazards.
Once the flowers reach their destination they are once again stored in refrigerated warehouses, then shipped to florists and then again stored in refrigerated units waiting to be arranged and sold. Are you seeing a trend here? Once those flowers are enjoyed by their owner, they then are either tossed or composted- neither of which are ideal or make up for the enormous carbon footprint they walked in with.
So, what can we do? Live life with no stunning centerpieces? (Gasp!) Well fear not, I have some green suggestions to fill the flower void.
In general, decorating with houseplants instead of cut flowers can benefit you and the environment by reducing emissions created by the floral industry but also by purifying your indoor air. Plants such as palms and spider plants are particularly great for filtering out household air pollution relieving asthma and allergy symptoms in many.
Increase your household sustainability by adopting one of these green alternatives to cut flowers and share with me your ideas and suggestions in the comment section below!
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