Are cut flowers bad for the environment?

Cut flowers that must be imported from another region are often grown in less-than-ideal conditions.

Many people like to celebrate important holidays with lavish bouquets of cut flowers. As a result, the flower industry is booming, shipping hundreds of tons of flowers around the world for sale in supermarkets and florists. Consumers spend millions every year buying flowers and taking them home: and most consumers don’t think about the environmental and social aspects of the industry. Several studies conducted in the late 1990s suggested that cut flowers had a serious environmental impact.

Cut flowers are typically grown in a greenhouse or nursery.

Most cut flowers are grown in South America, Africa and Southeast Asia in large greenhouse environments with low-paid, non-union workers. The greenhouses are carefully heated to produce the best flowers and are also heavily sprayed with pesticides, fungicides and herbicides. Because flowers are grown in countries with more flexible environmental laws, many banned substances, including DDT and methyl bromide, are used in flower production. These substances have a profound impact on the health of workers: many suffer from health problems such as skin conditions, respiratory problems, visual impairment and birth defects due to their exposure to these chemicals.

Studies suggest that the chemicals used in growing cut flowers are harmful to the environment.

In addition to harming workers, these chemicals are also extremely harmful to the environment. Methyl bromide has been linked to the depletion of the ozone layer, for example, while the use of DDT around the world has caused serious problems for many animal and bird populations. Most greenhouses that produce cut flowers dump chemicals on their crops in large quantities. These chemicals later enter the workers’ bodies, flowers, and groundwater. Pollution of water around commercial greenhouses harms animal and fish populations and also impacts human life by reducing the amount of drinking water.

See also  What is Scrod?

Pesticides used in the treatment of cut flowers can harm the health of florists.

Once the flowers are grown, they must still be shipped to a final destination, contributing greatly to global pollution. Some cut flowers can be transported thousands of miles, adding carbon dioxide to the atmosphere every step of the way. In floristry, flowers are arranged and prepared for sale, and some florists complain of skin and other health problems from prolonged contact with cut flowers. Finally, the consumer brings the flowers home, perhaps carelessly tossing them into a shopping cart loaded with fair-trade organic and other food products.

The serious environmental impact caused by the cut flower industry began to raise eyebrows at the beginning of the 21st century, when consumer protection organizations began educating people about the problems with cut flowers. Typically, flower stories peak around Valentine’s Day in an attempt to convince consumers to buy organic, locally grown flowers that don’t cause heavy environmental impacts with them. Local seasonal flowers can be just as beautiful and even more unusual, especially when paired with other thoughtful gifts.

Leave a Comment