What’s Going On Here?
Roses are red, not green. Love it or loathe it, this Friday is Valentine’s Day. Bouquets of flowers are one of the most common gifts, but what is the truth about the environmental footprint of this romantic gesture?
What Does This Mean?
For anyone who hadn’t noticed, Valentine’s Day is in February – a time when there aren’t too many flowers growing in our gardens. This means that for them to be delivered to our baes they must either be flown in from a hot country or grown in heated greenhouses in Holland – and both carry huge carbon footprints. In fact, all year round approximately 90% of UK flowers are imported from overseas!
Why Should We Care?
Valentine’s Day is yet another occasion with clever marketing persuading us to overconsume, with the UK estimated to have spent 1 billion pounds on the occasion in 2019. Carbon crunching expert Mike Berners-Lee estimates that out-of-season cut flowers have one of the largest carbon footprints per pound spent at the till.
Air freighting flowers from hot countries such as Kenya or Columbia before the flowers perish has around 50 times the climate impact of shipping and growing them in inefficiently heated greenhouses in the Netherlands is even worse! There are also the ethical issues of low-pay, poor working conditions and gender discrimination in the flower industry, especially in Africa and Latin America.
Furthermore, commercially cut flowers use land that could otherwise be used to grow food, and as we know demand for agricultural land is the leading drive of deforestation worldwide. It all begs the question – are imported cut flowers an unsustainable luxury that we don’t really need?
- If you’re thinking about Valentine’s Day, why not opt for a more sustainable gift such as a local potted plant, a home-cooked meal or some good old quality time together?
- If you’re still after flowers check out Flowers From the Farm, a network of seasonal British flower growers.
- Check out our recent articles on sustainable sex and eco-dating for more on environmentally friendly romance!