While Valentines Day may bring out more roses than the Rose Parade, it all comes with a price, and not just to buy the long stems and beautiful bouquets. Toxic chemicals and pesticides could be coating that perfect bloom, and the blow to child workers and environment may make your red in the face.
90% of the flowers purchased on Valentines day in America are imported, primarily from Colombia and Ecuador
Working conditions are downright awful for the children (approx 8-12% of agriculture workers in these countries are children under the age of 14), working 20 hour days processing 300 stems per hour. There are more than 115,000 workers picking flowers in Columbia alone.
Environmentally, these flowers deliver a lasting toll. If the transportation related impact for the 20 Million flowers flown over 5,000 miles isn’t enough, they are also drenched with toxic pesticides, fungicides and fertilizers while being grown in huge plastic tarp covered greenhouse compounds, sucking up land and scarce water resources. So much pesticide is used to keep each rose pristine, that toxic chemicals can be found in soil surrounding growing areas at depths of more than 1,000 feet. It doesn’t help that nearly a quarter of these pesticides are banned and illegal in the US.
Troubling still is that this ‘bouquet of toxins’ remain on the flower, so the use of petals in food, bathtubs, and whatever else you may be doing with them (don’t worry, we won’t tell), may be transferred and absorbed into your body.
That doesn’t sit well with the 66% of Ecuadorian and Colombian flower workers plagued by skin rashes, eye and respiratory problems, neurological impairment, miscarriages, premature births, and congenital malformations due to work-related conditions.
There are alternatives, however, if you really want to continue the flowers route:
- Buy local in-season flowers from a Veriflora approved retailer – check out Bloom That if you are in San Francisco.
- Find flowers from a local farmers market.
- Think ahead and grow some of your own flowers! If you are short on outdoor space, check out Woolly Pockets.
Then again, you could actually put some thought into it and buy her something she would actually enjoy, not the default holiday prescribed cliche.