Monday, 13 February 2012

Eco-Friendly Flowers

Flowers are a well-known holiday gift and with Valentine's Day just around the corner we encourage you to think green instead of red. There are arguments for all sides of "what's best" in the flower industry but to do your part for the planet, and the people in it, consider local, organic, and fair trade flowers.


Crocosmia - February
Locally-grown flowers can have a significantly reduced carbon footprint by employing a limited amount of harmful emissions to transport them from the garden to the store (as opposed to a large plane ride and more). When making your green flower choice, look for those that are in season at the time of your purchase, as this article shows some flowers grown in a greenhouse can have a greater carbon footprint than those flown for miles.

This website has put together a list of flowers by month to help you make your green flower choice easily: Flowers By Month Be sure to search your local area for what's in season near you!


Popular daisy-like flower with a country garden feel 
Unusual slightly thistle like flowers, dries well

Tall spiky flowers generally known as Montbretia when grown as a garden flower.  
The flower of the artichoke 

Tall flower spikes. Also, Larkspur which is a type of delphinium. 

Daisy like flowers with backward sloping petals. 
Foxtail Lily 
Large dramatic flowers, usually yellow or orange, with other colours less commonly available 
Graceful curving stems with loads of tiny flowers. Note not all colours are available at the same time, check with your florist 

pretty white small flowers, used as a filler 

Exotic looking flowers which hang downwards in a cluster on top of tall straight stems 

Long lasting trumpet shaped flowers up straight stems. 
Pincushion Protea 
Large flowerheads which resemble a pin cushion. Long lasting 
Tiny bell shaped flowers on short stems. Very popular in wedding flowers. 

A hybrid orchid, with highly patterned petals 


Much like produce, organic flowers are a great way to cut down on harmful pesticides and other chemicals being released into the environment through farming. Eco Business Links offers a list of some organic growers in North America but be sure to search and ask around for more in your area. Often stores that are not solely organic will also carry some organic products so always look for "Certified Organic" labels to help you identify the right ones.


Fair trade flowers are a great way to do your part for the planet and the people in it; by supporting fair trade, you can help increase the benefits and safety for the workers and reduce the use of harmful chemicals as a benefit for the planet too. Learn more about fair trade flowers and other products here at

"Flowers are a symbol of celebration, and are popular purchases for occasions like Valentine’s Day, Mother’s Day, or a graduation. But many people admire the beauty of a red rose without thinking about where the cut flower was produced, or under what conditions. 

The Dutch were the first to produce flowers for auction, and began exporting in the early 1600s. Today, half of the world’s flowers are grown in the Netherlands, and Dutch flower auctions amount to 19 million flowers per day. In this multi-billion dollar global industry, developing countries control most of the relevant technology and expertise.

A growing proportion of cut flowers are produced and exported by developing countries such as Kenya, Tanzania, Colombia, and Ecuador. The majority of flowers sold in Canada, available since 2005, are imported from Latin America.

Work in the flower industry is a very important source of income for many people, especially in regions where agriculture no longer brings in a living wage. However, these popular tokens of love and affection are often grown under a labour and chemical- intensive process that puts workers and the environment at high risk. 
Jobs in the flower industry are often insecure, with short-term contracts, low wages, and no benefits. Relatively few workers belong to unions, which would allow them to collectively negotiate better working conditions. Instead, many flower companies work to actively prevent the establishment of unions.
One of the most serious issues in the production of flowers is the exposure of workers, and their environment, to highly toxic chemical pesticides, fungicides, and fertilizers. Flower-importing countries only accept flower shipments if they are totally free of diseases and insects, so the majority of producers use huge quantities of these poisons. 
Workers are often required to handle dangerous chemicals without proper protective equipment. They also experience a variety of serious physical harm due to long hours spent in awkward positions, extreme changes in temperature, and long working hours.
Despite the fact that 65-70% of flower workers are women, they are typically paid less than men and are likely to be hired on a temporary rather than a permanent one. Pregnant and nursing women are often unprotected against exposure to dangerous chemicals.
While this may all sound very unromantic, there's a way to show that special someone that you really care. Go on, flirt with Fair Trade.
Fair Trade aims to protect and benefit workers on flower farms by certifying those farms which ensure safety and good working conditions for their employees. Among other things, Fair Trade standards for flowers ensure the following:
  • Salaries must be equal to or higher than the regional average or the minimum wage.
  • Producer organizations receive a premium, set at 10% of the negotiated price, which is invested in social and economic initiatives.
  • A Joint Body composed of workers and management is formed to manage the Fair Trade premium.
  • Forced labour and child labour of children under 15 years old is prohibited. Children aged 15 and over cannot do work that compromises their health or education.
  • Workers have  the right to establish or join an independent union
  • Health and safety measures must be established in order to avoid work-related injuries. A detailed set of safety regulations specific to flower production limit the use of agrochemicals and prohibit the use of banned pesticides.
If you choose to buy imported flowers, we hope you'll choose Fair Trade. Of course, many flowers are grown in Canada, and you can also find local organic options. Geraniums, poinsettias, chrysanthemums, the Canada Lily (Lilium canadense), and the woodland lily are just a few examples of the flowers cultivated domestically. Fresh local flowers are typically available from May until the middle of October."

Thank you for taking the time to learn more about renewable energy - Knowledge Is Power! For more information go to or write to us at if you have questions or want to get involved. Have a green day!