posted March 10th, 2010 by Sami Ewers
That flower bouquet resting beautifully in a vase on your table has a carbon footprint of about five pounds,
at the very least. That accounts for air transportation and any
chemical agents that may be applied to any such flower, as well as the
constant refrigeration that cut flowers require during transport
(according to The Environmental Impact of Cut Flowers).
This, to me, was an astounding realization, considering how much I
enjoy cut flowers in my home. And the problem is, it’s not just that
cut flowers have a large carbon footprint, they also contribute
immensely to supporting the chemical pesticide industry, and in doing
so, perpetuate the problems associated with use of dangerous chemicals
on our plants. Workers in South American countries who handle cut
flowers regularly have reported serious health problems — skin rashes,
respiratory problems and eye conditions, reportedly associated with chemical pesticide, herbicide and fungicide exposure.
Ultimately, it can’t be argued that conventionally produced,
chemically showered, imported cut flowers are good for us or the
environment. However, there are alternatives, and it’s important that
we consider them instead of simply running to the nearest grocery store
and buying flowers with mystery origins and no sign of organic growth
processes. Below are a couple of suggestions for greening our in-home
1. If you must buy cut flowers, buy organic and/or local. Search online for a company that sells organic flowers, such as Organic Bouquet.
Of course, this doesn’t reduce the bouquet’s carbon footprint to zero —
most likely, you’ll still want the flowers delivered, and they very
likely may still be imported, so you’ll have to account for
transportation CO2 emissions. However, eliminating the use of chemicals
contributes immensely to a better bouquet, so you’re certainly reducing
its carbon footprint if you buy organic. On the other hand, if you can
find cut flowers that were grown at a local, small farm nearby,
consider buying those. That way, you’re supporting local growers and
reducing the emissions of long-haul transport.
2. Buy a succulent potted plant that will
last much, much longer than cut flowers. These can provide a nice
alternative to flower bouquets. But be sure to check the origin of the
potted plant too, and above all, try to buy one that was grown locally
and, of course, organically. I recommend going to your local natural
foods store and asking an employee about where the plants they sell
come from, and, once you find out their history, determine whether or
not to buy them.