Date: 17 February
Cost of taking action: £/$/€ NIL
An article from guest writer Anna in the UK
Action 048: Don’t buy cut flowers
We may not think much of it, but the cut flower industry produces huge CO2 emissions, so I’d encourage you to think twice before purchasing a bouquet from the shops!
What’s the problem with cut flowers?
1. The cut flowers we see in our shops have often travelled a long way by truck and airplane. A study found that 11 individual flowers from Kenya and the Netherlands imported to the UK produced 32.25 kilograms of carbon dioxide! Compare this to another recent study which reported that a kilogram of beef is equivalent to 36.4 kilograms of carbon dioxide, and it’s easy to see the major environmental consequences the majority of us are overlooking!
2. They are also often sprayed with insecticides and fungicides, and grown with fertilisers and many other harsh chemicals. These can seriously damage the ecosystem as they contaminate the soil and cause harm if ingested by animals, and are often washed off into streams or rivers nearby, polluting the water.
3. One study of greenhouses in Mexico growing flowers for the global market found 36 chemicals in air samples! This included DDT, an insecticide banned many years ago for use within the UK due to its toxic impact on the wildlife, environment, and our own health.
4. Cut flowers are transported in refrigerated containers requiring masses of electricity to run whilst transported on trucks and on airplanes!
How will this action help?
By not buying cut flowers you will:
- Decrease your individual carbon footprint
- Not spread harmful chemicals in the atmosphere, watercourses or in your home
- Reduce CO2 emissions by not supporting the industry
- Avoid the use of associated plastic packaging
Some tips on how to change
1. Buy an alternative to flowers! Isn’t it so much nicer to watch a plant grow and thrive as you nurture it? And, best of all, they flower for longer and the flowers will return next year! There are a whole host of indoor plants you can buy from your local garden centre or farm.
2. Even better, buy seeds and grow your own! For a special gift, you can give a plant you’ve grown yourself!
3. Shop locally and from trusted local farmers. Visit https://www.flowersfromthefarm.co.uk, it’s a really good website! Buying seasonal flowers that have been grown in Britain will mean that they’ve not had far to travel. This will reduce CO2 emissions and reduce the need for pesticides and preservatives. Buy locally, just like with your food! A Dutch Lily , for example, has a carbon footprint four times that of a commercial English Lily.
The key message
Cut flowers have a significant environmental impact and die a week later! By growing your own indoor or outdoor plants, or thinking about other more sustainable gifts, you can decrease CO2 emissions, reduce plastic use, reduce pesticide and other chemical use, and give more thoughtful, longer lasting gifts.