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The Cost of Cut Flowers

The Cost of Cut Flowers

Ever wondered how those beautiful flowers arrived in your arms or even where they are from?

Apart from being delivered to you by the love of your life or apology or thank you, have you ever wondered about the rest of the story behind those cut flowers?

Especially flower nirvana - Valentine's Day. We all know, or at least have a sneaking suspicion that Valentine's Day is a marketing exercise and not really about love at all.

In the end, whoever started it and for why, it has become about love. And it is also about money - so much money that the global cut flower industry matches the GDP of several countries.

And that makes it a money machine. When there is that much money involved, people start to behave badly. And the cut-flower industry is no different. Cut-flowers are all about chemicals and because you don't eat them, no one really cares. But you should. The cut-flower industry is a short-cycle production process that requires the extensive use of agrochemicals which have a negative effect on the air, soil and water supply.

Cut flowers are also about travel miles. The world's biggest producers of flowers are increasingly low labour cost, good climate countries like Colombia, Kenya, Ecuador and Ethiopia. Your first instincts might be that this is a good thing because jobs are going to those who need them most. The problem is not the labour, but the mass destruction of the country's natural resources, the replacement of food crops and ultimate ability to keep those same people healthy.

Apart from travel miles and the high chemical use in the production of flowers, there is the high use of water. To put this in perspective, half the water from Lake Naivasha in Kenya is used for the Kenyan floriculture industry. Half!  Eventually you have to stop and ask whether the water, chemicals, land, air-miles and carbon footprint used for the week's life or cut-flowers wouldn’t be better used elsewhere?

If you are going to give flowers on Valentine's Day or any special occasion, try and give low mileage, local flowers and support both a local grower and a lower emissions footprint. There are more and more totally gorgeous florists around who specialise in local flowers like Flowers at the Farm at Byron Bay. 

Or pick flowers some from your garden. A friend of mine met her future husband when he caught her stealing flowers from his front garden. (Not that I am advocating that kind of behaviour... ♥) Or give an interesting pot plant with herbs and use them to cook dinner together.

Make your own flowers together by doing a workshop with someone like Succulent Sisters. You can make something as beautiful as these and it's really simple!

Alternatively, send Fido the heart melter with a single flower and go to dinner. 

Statistical nirvana on cut flowers and travel miles can be found here on Eco Business.

Images: Unsplash : Brigitte Tohm | Lizzie | Gabor Juhansz | Celine Sayuri | Others: Flowers at the Farm & Little Urban Farmers
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