The Climate Crusader is wondering whether her love of cut flowers is taking a toll on the planet.
It turns out that those flowers that look so sunny and cheerful in buckets outside the grocery store might not exactly have a sunny and cheerful past. While it's true that we don't eat flowers, many of the same issues that arise when buying flowers are the same as the issues when buying food. Specifically, most of the flowers bought and sold in North America are shipped long distance and grown using pesticides. As well, many flowers (especially during the winter months) are sourced from tropical countries in the developing world where workers often receive low pay and work long hours in unsafe conditions.
One way to reduce the carbon footprint of the bouquet on your table - and to make sure the flowers were grown sustainably - is to go local. Your local farmers' market, farmstands, your own garden and even wildflowers growing on the side of the road can be great sources of local flowers. What if you want a flower that doesn't grow locally to you, though? And what if you want flowers out of season? I live in Canada, so I can understand why you might want fresh blooms in winter as a pick-me-up.
When you're buying flowers - just like when you're buying food - ask questions. Some local florists specialize in sustainable flowers, sourcing organic and fair trade flowers both locally and internationally. You may also be able to find florists that use biodegradable and sustainable cellophane and bows. Some grocery chains like Whole Foods and Trader Joe's also offer blooms you can feel better about buying. There are also sustainable online florists, so that you can get green flowers wherever you live.
The bottom line anytime you're trying to make greener choices is to be mindful. We might not always make perfect choices, but the more we can do to educate ourselves and think about what we're buying, whether it's flowers, food, clothing or something else, the better off we'll be.