Providing tools and support to families, citizens, and activists to counter our consumerist culture and to create new social norms about how to have a high quality of life and a reduced ecological footprint.
Fresh flowers look beautiful while they last. But unless you grow your own, chances are you're buying flowers that may have a "hidden" toxic effect on workers and the Earth. Look for organic and fair-trade certified flowers online, or even better, buy locally grown organic flowers that eliminate the carbon used in shipping the flowers from as far away as China or Africa. Find locally grown organic flowers via Local Harvest. Even if your local flowers aren’t organic, they were probably grown without the chemical soup applied to flowers shipped in from overseas.
Why It’s Important
The majority of cut flowers are grown in Latin America and Africa, near the equator, in an industry that employs mostly women working without benefits and with forced overtime when holidays roll around and flowers are in demand. 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 douse the flowers with chemicals and make frequent use of pesticides banned in the U.S.— up to 20 percent of the pesticides used, in fact, are banned here.
Heavy application of pesticides in confined areas has significant impacts on both the environment and workers. The chemicals get on worker’s 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 percent 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. Urge your local florists to carry certified flowers, and look for organic flowers online or at your local farmer’s market.
According to Transfair USA, who certifies flowers, “Fair Trade certification on flowers gaurantees that growers meet strict social and environmental standards and that workers receive a premium to invest in community development. A portion of each purchase goes directly to a community development fund for workers, which collectively decides how to use the funds. Projects include scholarships, housing, health clinics, and micro-enterprises.”
- Why Bother with Organic Flowers. An article by Donella Meadows
- Transfair USA’s Fair Trade Flower Page. Learn more fair trade flowers and where you can pick them up.