Flowers are a big business and have become linked to holidays like Valentine’s Day and Mother’s Day. And you won’t find a wedding without them. However, is floristry actually good for the environment? The answer is pretty shocking.
The flower business is gigantic and is valued at over $7 billion in just the US. Due to the insane demand around holidays. The US can’t actually keep up with production. Thus, 80% of flowers you can buy in the US actually come from other countries.
Transporting these flowers is not an easy process and requires specialized equipment that produces Hydrofluorocarbons (HFC) to operate. They are even treated with toxic pesticides. These flowers may be sought after, but they come at a price.
Let’s take a deeper look at the dark side of floristry.
What Is Floristry?
By definition, Floristry is the production and commerce related to flowers. This not only includes growing flowers but also arranging and delivering them.
Looking at flowers can create a variety of emotions, and the majority of them are quite positive. They have become a staple of most major events and holidays, which has significantly ramped up demand. This has caused a variety of problems.
For example, you can’t exactly grow flowers in the winter, yet that won’t stop certain events from happening in that time frame.
This is one of the main drivers behind why so many flowers we use in the US come from other nations. We just can’t grow them here. The other main reason is also the labor cost, that’s how the industry keeps the price tag low all year round.
Not to mention that the majority of flower demand happens on two very specific days of the year: Valentine’s Day and Mother’s day.
For reference in 2020, Mother’s day accounted for $2.56 billion in spending.
Where Do the Emissions Come From?
As we just discussed, flowers need to be imported from other countries. Not only does this create emissions from the act of transporting them, but they also need to be refrigerated to stay in pristine condition.
After all, no one wants to give their loved one a decaying flower.
Of course, this is only half of the transportation. Many florists offer delivery services for big events such as weddings and parties. That’s more emissions, but that’s not even the worse part. The actual production of flowers is anything but sustainable.
The demand for flowers is high, and that means they need to grow fast. Fertilizers and pesticides are used to aid in their growth. After all, the flowers need to be pristine. And since these aren’t for eating, toxicity is not a concern.
And to keep up in demand when out of season, many use heated greenhouses to keep producing even in the winter.
Let’s also not forget about the actual preparation. One of the most important elements in creating flower arrangements is the floral foam. This substance gives support to the flowers and is responsible for most of the magic.
However, it’s a very toxic substance comprised of formaldehyde and other substance. And yes, it is a one-time-use product.
When you combine all of this together, the flower industry is a serious climate emitter.
Look For Slow Flowers
As you might have guessed, people are still going to want flowers, and the good news is that you can get some and not feel bad about it.
The “Slow Flowers” movement aims to produce flowers without using synthetic pesticides and produce seasonal bouquets. This prevents scenarios where flowers are forcibly grown out of season, which significantly cuts the carbon footprint.
Many local florists have these as options so be on the lookout.
Robert has been following and writing about environmental stories for years at GreenGeeks. He believes that highlighting environmentally friendly practices can help promote change in every household.