Valentine’s Day is all about sending flowers. Between February 1st and 14th, 2011, Australia imported 5.22 million rose stems, mostly from Kenya. If you assume that typical bouquets consist of 24 roses it would mean that 217,500 bouquets were sold in just two weeks.

Our desire to show kindness and affection towards others through the gifting of cut flowers is causing harm to Mother Nature. The 217,500 bouquets would have been wrap in 75cm plastic cellophane. This is just for roses in Australia.

Cellophane facts won’t win over your sweetheart. Let’s make smarter, more sustainable flower choices with Valentine’s Day around the corner.

Petal Power Flowers

There are over 900 flower farms in Australia that cultivate 4,470 hectares of flowers to supply nearly 2,000 florists. The majority of cut flowers sold here actually come from overseas. In 2015, Ecuador was the most expensive importer, at A$1.9million. This is the perfect question to ask if you are wondering Why are delicate flowers ship halfway across the globe?

Ecuador and other countries near the Equator enjoy good growing conditions. They also get 12 hours of sunlight every day. These regions often see a significant contribution from the flower industry to the economies of smaller or less developed countries.

For example, in eastern Africa, flowers make up more than 10% of total exports. This is second only to tea

The economics of selling cut flowers all over the globe are also influence by the low wages in Kenya and Ecuador. This often comes at the expense of local pickers and growers who are often subject to poor working conditions.

The Controversial Carbon Issue Flowers

The United States produces around 9,000 tonnes of carbon dioxide from the shipments and purchases of 100 million roses on Valentine’s Day.

As with many things in this complex and hectic world, the question about a flower’s carbon footprint may not be as simple as it seems. The Netherlands is the largest exporter of cut flowers in the world. Most of these flowers are grown in refrigerate or heated green houses.

The controlled environment inside these buildings is maintain by artificial light, heat, and cooling. Each rose that is grown in The Netherlands contributes approximately 2.91kg of CO2 annually to the atmosphere. A single rose from a Kenyan farm contributes just 0.5kg.

This is due to the fact that Kenyan hothouses don’t use artificial lighting or heating, and most farmers walk or cycle to work. Therefore, flowers from tropical regions can sometimes considere low-carbon. However, international transport not always taken into account.

Pesticides That Are Not Need

Because flowers are not considere an edible crop, regulations regarding pesticide usage are usually exempt. The cut flower industry is the largest consumer of pesticides in the world.

For pest control purposes, flower growers regularly import large quantities of chemicals like methyl bromide and others to Kenya and other countries.

Concerningly, methyl bromide can be an ozone-depleting chemical. Some cases have seen the destruction of fish stocks critical to local communities due to run-off from these chemicals from nearby water bodies like Lake Naivasha in Kenya.

What Can You Do Then?

We don’t want our love to suffer, and we also don’t want to contribute to a decrease in expressions of affection or conflict. The good news is that there are many eco-friendly ways you can show your love.

You can also grow your own flowers for gifts. A living plant can given as a gift that will live on in your garden for many years, reminding you about that special person or day. This is a common rule in our household, and one that our husbands are happy with our gardens look better than ever!

Locally grown organic flowers are a better option if you don’t have the means to grow or give living plants. This will result in fewer flower miles. The hardy native species and breeds such as lilies or birds of paradise. Need less resources and can survive longer in transport. This means there is less waste.