HOW CAN FLOWERS BE BAD FOR THE ENVIRONMENT?
Did you know that around 90% of flowers found in British supermarkets and florists are imported not just from Holland but from many places much further afield such as Ecuador, Columbia, Kenya and Israel?
Flowers are air-freighted to the UK via Holland and must be kept refrigerated to prolong vase life, which creates a huge carbon footprint. As well as this many flowers are grown using copious amounts of fertilizer, pesticides, herbicides and other chemicals - some of which are banned in the EU due to their harmful environmental impacts! These chemicals can leach into the soil polluting local ecosystems and waterways.
Workers at flower farms in developing countries often face harsh and dangerous working conditions for very low pay. They are exposed to hazardous chemicals, work very long hours and female workers often have little protection from sexual harassment. You may have noticed that some supermarkets now offer fairtrade flowers. The fact they've had to do this shows the extent of the issue.
There is also the problem of single use plastics in the cut flower industry. Most flowers that florists buy from wholesalers come wrapped in cellophane. This is difficult and expensive to recycle so most of it ends up going to landfill where it can take up to 400 years to degrade completely. However the worst single use plastic used in floristry is floral foam - sometimes known as Oasis. Floral foam is essentially a block of water absorbing micro plastic which cannot biodegrade. It contains many horrible chemicals including Formaldehyde, Carbon Black and Barium Sulphate. The dust from dry floral foam is harmful to the lungs and skin, and long term exposure is known to be carcinogenic.
WHAT YOU CAN DO TO HELP
There are many things you can do to reduce the environmental impact of the flowers you buy, see the list below for our suggestions.
Buy British - you can search on www.flowersfromthefarm.co.uk to find British flower growers near you (or near where you want the flowers delivered).
Go plastic free - ask your florist if they can package your flowers without cellophane, maybe just using brown paper or presented in a glass jar or vase.
Say no to floral foam - let your florist know that you don't want them to use floral foam in your order. There are plenty of foam free alternatives to designs, afterall.. there was a time before floral foam!
Skip the flower food - ask your florist not to include a little plastic flower food sachet. We find adding a splash of lemonade to the water works just as well. Or skip the flower food all together and just change the water in your arrangement everyday.