Guest Post: An Eco-Warrior’s Guide to Buying Flowers without Guilt
It’s easy to think of cut flowers as something with little effect on the environment – after all, they’re lovely, natural things. Unfortunately, it’s not that simple. The cut flower industry has a huge impact on the planet, from extensive use of chemicals to vast air miles, and many more things besides.
How Cut Flowers Impact the Environment
Most flowers sold in the UK are not grown here. Cut flowers are a big industry, and one which relies almost completely on imported flowers. Shipping flowers from distant lands results in massive CO2 emissions, from flights across oceans to journeys in refrigerated lorries.
It’s not just travel miles that contribute to pollution levels: Pesticides, herbicides, fertilisers and fungicides are all standard procedure when growing flowers on a massive scale, particularly in countries outside the EU where more lax environmental laws are in place.
Artificial lighting and heating are also commonplace in colder climes, so producers can grow flowers all year round. It doesn’t stop when the flowers reach our shops, either. Floral foam, a petroleum by-product, leaf-shine aerosol sprays and cellophane wrap are all a common part of displaying and selling flowers.
It’s difficult to buy eco-friendly flowers, or even to know where to start looking, when such a huge industry of conventionally grown, environmentally unsound flowers has saturated the marketplace.
Where to Buy Eco-Friendly Flowers
All is not lost, though. If you’re concerned about the impact of cut flowers on the environment but can’t imagine not displaying a beautiful bouquet on your dining table, there are a few things to look out for: namely locally-grown, in-season and organic flowers.
Wherever possible, you should try to buy flowers grown locally. Farmers markets and independent florists are a great place to start, and they’re often organic to boot. Ethical online retailers are now commonplace too, making the search for eco-friendly flowers much easier.
Flowers sold in supermarkets are the worst offenders, and should be avoided wherever possible – if they’re your last resort, look out for flowers labelled as organic and always check what country they’re grown in.
And, of course, the most eco-friendly option of all is to grow your own flowers. There’s a simple pleasure to be had pottering about in the back garden, snipping off a few flowers here and there to display humbly on the windowsill.
Use Your Spending Power to Effect Change
Unless we start demanding ethical, environmentally-friendly flowers and speaking out with our buying power, the industry is likely to continue on its current global course, resulting in higher CO2 emissions, more chemical use and overall devastation of the Earth.
You may have to spend a little more to buy eco-friendly flowers, but you’ll be able to rest easy in the knowledge that you’re doing your part for the local economy and the health of the planet.
About the author:
Simon Philip works as a marketing manager for Prestige Flowers, an online florist specialising in same and next day flower delivery throughout the UK.