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Blog archive: May 2011

Buying organic eco-flowers

Organic flowers are grown without using nasty poisonous agrochemicals, resulting in more naturally beautiful looking flowers that don’t have the harmful impact on the Earth that non-organic flowers usually do. Because non-organic flowers aren’t eaten, they’re routinely grown with way more pesticides and chemical fertilizers than non-organic foods, and with chemicals that are totally banned from food production. So although you personally don’t get affected by the chemicals used to grow non-organic flowers, the impact on the planet and on the growers is way worse and bigger than for food crops.

With the huge growth in imported blooms, a typical flower arrangement bought in the UK travels more than 27,000 miles to reach florist or supermarket. Most roses given on Valentine’s Day will not have been grown in English country gardens but will have come from the Netherlands. In the US, these distances are way further, with so much of the non-organic floral growers being based south of the Border.

Flowers found in more exotic mixed bouquets in the UK could include Protea or Brunia which could have traveled 2,000 miles from Israel. And many of the carnations sold in Britain come all the way from Kenya, Chile, Ecuador or Colombia.

Environment campaigners are now asking the public to think about the cost to the planet before they splash out – and go for home-grown blooms rather than those which have been transported halfway around the globe. Campaigners warn that as well as adding to greenhouse gases through aviation or road transport costs, moving flowers around the world can also put pressure on precious water supplies in developing countries.

Vicki Hind of Friends of the Earth said: “Our concerns are in terms of greenhouse gases and the use of chemicals and water.”

Andrea Caldecourt, of the Flowers and Plants Association, says that most of the red roses given on Valentine’s Day in the UK come from the Netherlands, and travel by ferry and road rather than air. Other popular choices such as tulips are likely to be home-grown, she said, while scented narcissi often are usually grown in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly.

Here are the places that most cut flowers in the UK are actually grown:

Roses – Chile
Tulips – Holland
Leucadendrons – Holland
Cape Greens – South Africa
Brunia – Israel
Lisianthus – Israel
Alstroemeria – Kenya
Protea – South Africa

In the USA, the huge majority of flowers available are grown with intensive use of chemicals, but there are a few independent companies starting to spring up that care about the Earth enough to offer organic flowers and organic bouquets. And as a bonus, because these companies care so much, the quality of their floral arrangements and the blooms are often much higher than regular florists. It’s attention to detail than makes all the difference, and organic florists are for sure looking at every detail when sourcing their supply of beautiful flowers for you.

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