Who doesn’t love having fresh blooms around the house? They add a seasonal pop of color to any room and you can’t help but smile every time you see them. They also make an easy gift. But are the flowers we buy ethically sourced? What about their footprint on the planet? According to the United States Department of Agriculture, 80% of all flowers sold in the US are imported, which requires transport and refrigeration and contributes to global carbon emissions. The US primarily imports flowers from South American industrial flower farms, which have a history of using harsh chemical fertilizers, toxic pesticides, and unfair labor practices. There is also an extensive amount of waste in the flower industry. Knowing these facts and being a sustainably and ethically conscious brand, it’s made us think twice about where to shop for blooms. Here are a few ways you can buy ethically and sustainably sourced flowers.
Buy locally grown flowers.
Strict labeling in the flower industry just doesn’t exist, which makes it hard to know where your flowers are sourced from. With buying from a local flower shop or farmer’s market, you have the chance to ask the florist where the flowers you’re interested in are from versus getting them at the grocery store or ordering online. Supporting local means boosting the economy in your area and it also takes less time to get to you, resulting in fewer carbon emissions. They also usually use butcher’s paper instead of plastic. Here in the Bay Area, there are so many florists who buy a wide variety of flowers from local growers and farmers. Check your area and support your local florists whenever you can. While the price is definitely more for these types of flowers, it feels better to support local small businesses.
Buy seasonal and organic flowers.
Just as with fruits and vegetables, buying flowers that are in season is more environmentally friendly because fewer resources are needed to grow flowers out of season. Before you buy, check this guide to see which flowers are currently in season.
Buy Fair Trade flowers.
Look for the labels of certification programs like Fair Trade USA or the Rainforest Alliance. These programs demand that flower farms that use their logos pay their workers a fair wage and overtime, give them safe working conditions, and provide social benefits. Though keep in mind that Fair Trade means international trade is involved, which means that fair trade flowers have a heavier carbon footprint.
Grow your own flowers or pick them in your neighborhood (if your neighbors don’t mind).
Growing your own flowers removes the environmental costs of imports and transportation, and also ensures that there are no negative ethical effects.
Buy a plant instead.
Plants simply last longer than flowers. Another perk is they’re usually low maintenance.
Buy faux flowers.
We are incredibly lucky that in the past decade, faux flowers look better than ever, so it makes it easy to use them every year.