Who's the fairest? The Valentine who picks certified fair-trade, organic or locally grown flowers. That's because conventionally grown blooms are so unfair: 70 percent of U.S. flowers are flown from abroad, where workers often do not receive fair wages and laws do not restrict the use of dangerous pesticides. A 2006 Harvard study found that children born to women working in the Ecuadorian flower industry had impaired brain development due to prenatal exposure to pesticides. So have a heart! Give your loved one better blooms and invest in safer conditions for workers, ecosystems and consumers alike.
Then there are the wasteful carbon emissions from all the fuel miles those flower shipments consume!
A big green bonus: Fair trade, organic bouquets are now priced competitively with regular ones! Here are some fair floral tips.
1. Buy Local
Talk to the flower farmers: Your best bet is a farmers' market. Buy local fresh or dried flowers from growers who, if not certified organic, can assure you that they don't use pesticides and treat workers fairly. Ask your florist shop for contact info for growers. Search your zip code for the nearest growers and farmers' markets at Local Harvest.
When shipping flowers, order through your local florist shop, and ask them to choose a shop in your recipient's zip code that sells locally grown blooms. That way, you support two locales!
2. Look for verified green/fair trade labels In a rush? Who isn't. Look no farther than your nearest Costco (hint, hint, Valentine!) See below.
*Certified Fair-Trade flowers are grown on farms that receive financial incentives for providing fair wages, safe, clean housing and workplaces, and protecting rainforests by farming sustainably.
*Certified USDA Organic flowers are grown without synthetic pesticides or fertilizers (a boon to farm community health as well as ecosystems).
Veriflora uses third-party certifier Scientific Certification Systems (SCS) to make sure that workers and natural resources are protected.
*Rainforest Alliance Certified follows Sustainable Agriculture Network (SAN) standards limiting pesticides and ensuring farm families health care and education.
Costco sells gorgeous long-stemmed Rainforest Alliance certified roses in a tropical sunset's worth of shades, from yellow and orange to pink and red.
FTD offers Fair-Trade Certified roses and lilies in its Eco Flowers line.
One World Flowers sells fair trade bouquets at fair prices.
Organic Bouquet carries a great variety of flowers, all certified organic.
California Organic Flowers grow year-round domestic blooms, available through Local Harvest.
Texas growers Arnosky's Specialty Flowers. supply Central Market, Whole Foods and HEB (Texas' own grocery chain) with beautiful cut flowers grown with environmentally sensitive practices.
Want to add some organic, fair-trade chocolates to your sweet package? Use GreenerPenny's mobile-friendly Chocolate Shopping List.
More practical green, healthy solutions for your daily life, from food and water to cleaning, energy, cosmetics and more, can be found in my book, Do One Green Thing: Saving the Earth Through Simple, Everyday Choices. For more info and tips, see our home page, GreenerPenny.com!