phone 877-899-2468 | my account | basket
What's New
Press Releases
Media & Online Coverage
Video Clips
About Us
Eco Standards
Together We Can
Contact Us
Media Contacts

Is it ethical to buy cut flowers?

Until we demand ethical flowers, the chemical fallout will continue to leave a bad smell in the air, says Lucy Siegle

Sunday May 14, 2006

I don't often envy American consumers, but when it comes to cut flowers they have far more options to buy ethically minded cut flowers. This is largely thanks to Gerald Prolman, an eco entrepreneur who set up Organic Bouquet, which has proved to be a hit with the consumer and pioneered eco labels for floral products. Now the US ethical flower market is growing nicely - worth $8m last year - which is what you might call real flower power.

By contrast, the European ethical flower scene seems to have been killed off by a cold snap. There is just one European organic flower wholesaler, the Dutch-based Florganic, which supplies Waitrose - the only UK supermarket to proffer any organic blooms.; 0800 216 990).

Meanwhile, the UK market for conventional flowers is huge - raking in £1.5bn a year. Eighty-five per cent and rising of flowers sold in the UK are imported. Kenyan cut flowers dominate the market, but increasingly there are challenges from all over the globe. There has been an 83 per cent increase in air-freighted flowers in the past four years alone, all moved round the world using an energy intensive refrigeration process. Last year, 19,000 tonnes of flowers were imported into the UK from Kenya, racking up 33,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions.

So for pretty things in a vase, cut flowers punch well above their weight in terms of environmental fallout. They are grown using copious doses of fertilisers, insecticides, fungicides, nematocides and plant-growth regulators, generally washed straight into waterways. One study of greenhouses in Mexico growing flowers for the global market found 36 chemicals in air samples from the hothouse, including, horrifyingly, DDT.

Fairtrade flowers, however, offer a slim window of ethical opportunity for UK customers. In Kenya the Fairtrade Foundation has enlisted a number of growers to bring certified roses to the UK, which retail through supermarkets. True, there are criticisms: unlike other Fairtrade initiatives that focus on improving the lot of small producers, the Kenyan model works with huge farms; it can also be said to bolster rather than challenge supermarket dominance back home and to exacerbate the problem of air miles. However, these flowers do offer a more equitable deal to the workers in Kenya, and arguably for the first time it enshrines the rights of growers.

I consider this a very small petal-strewn step in the right direction. Unfortunately the bulk of the global cut-flower trade seems to be bounding off in the other direction. Unless consumers start demanding ethical flowers, the flower of the future will be destined to be a globalised, pesticide-ridden bloom, raised on a vast monoculture plain and developed at the expense of indigenous flora and fauna by workers paid a pittance. It's a rose by any other name, but if definitely won't smell sweet.

Follow us on Twitter Fan us on Facebook
© Copyright 2017

Sustainable Flowers Make The Perfect Gift For All Occasions

Organic Bouquet is the largest online provider of eco-friendly and organic floral gifts. All of our flowers are grown in a manner that is not only environmentally friendly but also provides outstanding resources for farm workers and artisans. Organic Bouquet partners with select flower farms in California, Ecuador and Colombia. All of our flower farms follow stringent growing practices which are monitored by multiple certification agencies and associations. When you purchase flowers from Organic Bouquet, you are helping to improve the life of a flower farm worker, their family and the local floral community.

Our eco-friendly flower arrangements include roses, calla lilies, tulips, gerbera daisies, hyacinths, sunflowers, alstromeria lilies and blue iris. In addition to a complete line of flower arrangements, we offer gift baskets, fruit baskets, nut baskets, gourmet chocolates, gourmet cookies, plants and  wreaths. All of these products are certified eco-friendly and/or provide for environmental benefits through our participation in Carbon Offset programs.

Whatever the occasion, our flowers make the perfect gift- birthday celebration flowers, anniversary flowers, holiday flowers, or floral arrangements simply to say thank you. Sending flowers from Organic Bouquet says that you care not only about the person receiving the flowers, but also about the environment. All of our gift items are shipped nationwide to all 50 states. So whether you need to send flowers to Florida, New York, California, or Colorado, we can guarantee overnight delivery to ensure they arrive fresh and ready to put a smile on someone’s face.

Whether you are purchasing online, or through one of our customer service specialists, you can be assured you are ordering the freshest quality of flowers and environmentally friendly gifts.