Walking into the grocery store the other day, I was immediately surrounded by bouquets of flowers: roses, carnations, Gerber daisies – all perky and wrapped in plastic. Their bright colors didn’t keep me from feeling overwhelmed by the unsustainability of it all.
Where did all these flowers come from?
How many pricked fingers and 16-hour days went into removing the thorns from these roses? How much carbon went into our atmosphere so that these “fresh” flowers could cross oceans to get here? How many herbicides and pesticides infused the soil? How many harmed the men and women processing these treated plants?
And the most disheartening question: After all this damage, how long will these bouquets even be enjoyed?
The sad truth behind store-bought flower bouquets is that much of the industry is unregulated, meaning that the working conditions at flower-growing companies are questionable, and the ways they care (or don’t care) for the environment is unknown to buyers.
Of course, fresh flowers are a wonderful touch for celebrations and holidays. They brighten the home, give life to a room and fill it with lovely smells (well, sometimes). But when we think about the impact of importing flowers from Colombia or even Africa just to enjoy them for a few days before they wilt and have to be thrown out, we may not find these bouquets quite so pleasing after all.
Buying fresh bouquets locally is a sustainable alternative to purchasing flowers at the supermarket, especially if you are supporting a grower who uses organic farming methods.
Another alternative: dried flowers.
Now, you may not think of dried flower bouquets when you first get the idea to give the gift of blooms. But why not? Giving dried flowers is not only more sustainable, as fresh cut flowers require constant refrigeration and water, while dried flowers are simply cut and hung upside down in a dark space.
The best part about giving dried flowers is that they last. They last for years! With no wilting and no watering required, dried flowers make a great-smelling, beautiful gift that’s so much better for the environment.
So next time you’re about to give a bouquet, think about the big picture and how you can make a difference just by turning to a local or dried alternative to fresh-cut flowers.