Once spring has sprung, it’s only natural to want to bring some of that fresh spring feeling indoors in the form of a whimsical bouquet or two. An elegant vase filled with bright blooms is the perfect finishing touch to anyone’s spring cleaning frenzy.
Before you commit to buying flowers though, you might want to consider that not all arrangements are ethical or sustainable. In fact, florists often use cut flowers that are imported from far away to meet the demand for variety.
Some of the biggest global exporters of flowers include the Netherlands, Kenya, Colombia, Ecuador, and Malaysia. For flowers to travel such far distances raises concerns about CO2 emissions. Plus, depending on the country, flower industry workers are often at risk of exploitation, poverty, and being exposed to dangerous pesticides without protection or compensation. Not to mention the fact that many bouquets are still wrapped in plastic. On top of all that, imported flowers are also treated with pesticides during the quarantine process, which poses risks to health and the environment.
So, how can you source ethical and sustainable flowers?
Buy locally grown flowers
The global flower industry still lacks strict labeling requirements, which makes it challenging for consumers to know exactly where imported flowers may have come from. To avoid the risk of long-distance shipping, choose locally grown flowers so you can rest assured that you’re minimizing your carbon footprint.
You can ask the florist directly where the flowers come from or play it safe and grab a bouquet from your local farmer’s market. Also, you may want to ask for the flowers to be wrapped in butcher’s paper instead of plastic.
Buy seasonal flowers
If you buy flowers that are in season, the resources needed to grow them are less than out of season varieties. For US buyers, check out this list from Pick Up Flowers for seasonal availabilities. Look at Interflora for those in Europe or the UK.
Search for organic and fair-trade flowers
Though finding certified fair trade and organic florists is not an easy task, there are organic growers who supply to local florists. The best tactic is to ask the organic growers which shops they supply. For those in the US, this list from Citrus Sleep is a good resource.
Grow your own
If you want to entirely circumvent the environmental and ethical costs of imports and transportation, all while reaping the many health benefits of gardening, then consider growing and cutting your own flowers.
If gardening isn’t your strong suit, then maybe schedule some time to dreamily wander through a field of wildflowers with a pair of scissors.
Buy a plant instead
A great alternative to cut flowers is plants that are native to your region. Not only will you avoid much of the wastage associated with cut flowers and issues surrounding transportation but plants generally last longer and can be just as beautiful.