Why? Because the majority of cut flowers are grown in Latin America and equatorial Africa in an industry in which the employees (mostly women) work for low wages and without benefits. When the holidays roll around and flowers are in demand, the workers are required to labor overtime.
The flowers themselves are grown in greenhouses or under broad tents –- not to keep weather or insects out, but to keep pesticides in. Growers in other countries frequently use pesticides banned in the U.S. Heavy application of pesticides in confined areas has significant impacts on both the environment and workers. The chemicals get on workers’ clothes, in their skin and lungs, and are carried out of the greenhouses to their homes. Pesticides also contaminate the soil and seep into water supplies. Studies in Costa Rica have indicated that 50% of floriculture workers show symptoms of pesticide poisoning, and rates of miscarriage and birth defects are higher in areas surrounding flower farms.
Certified organic flowers are grown without the use of dangerous pesticides –- making a safer environment for floriculture workers, their families, and their homes. Fair Trade flowers are grown by workers who are paid a more reasonable salary than otherwise.
Where can you get organic and Fair Trade flowers? Check with your local florist to see what they carry. Also, try your local organic grocery store. Whole Foods, for example, carries eco-friendly flowers.
Tell the Eco Women: What’s your favorite flower to receive for Valentine’s Day or another time?
The Eco Women are not affiliated with any of the companies mentioned. Photo credits: Yahoo Images.