After I learned the eco-issues behind the cut flower industry I was never able to look at a dozen roses the same again. No longer was it a symbol of a sweet loving gesture, but rather, the sign of often pesticide laden blooms and an enlarged carbon footprint. However, 1-800-Flowers has introduced Fair Trade flower bouquets. A step in the right direction? You be the judge.
1-800-FLOWERS.COM has added four Fair Trade Certified bouquets approved by Transfair USA. The flowers come in three varieties: sweetheart roses, mini carnations, and lisianthus. But I still can't help but to think it's a drop in the bucket for this 40 million dollar a year industry that's doing major ecological damage.
For the industry as a whole 79 percent of cut flowers come from Ecuador or Columbia and are grown with 12 different pesticides. It's no secret that these pesticides are getting workers sick and polluting our ground water. When they're put together, the floral foam used to hold flowers in place, is a petroleum bi-product that off gases formaldehyde when soaked in water. This foam is not biodegradable.
While the new additions are certainly a step in the right direction for the sheer fact that we can begin to ensure that wages are fair for at least some of the workers in this industry, still so much more needs to be done. First of all, vastly expanding the amount of Fair Trade offerings and then investing in more flowers grown naturally without the use of so many chemicals. For that matter, it would be a blessing if we could start to steer away from cut flowers entirely and instead enjoy potted plants.