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Beyond the Sexy Consequences of Giving Flowers for Valentine’s Day

February 9, 2010

Flickr / sophiea

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, flower shops across North America are about to buy and sell hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of cut flowers.

Are you planning on buying your special someone a bouquet?  Have you considered the consequences?  Many of them will likely be very positive, but there may be other related consequences that you wouldn’t want to share with your loved one.

Pause for a moment and imagine what is happening around the world as a result of Valentine’s Day.  North Americans are on the verge of demanding more long-stem roses than any other time of the year.  In response to this major demand, Latin America flower producers, in countries such as Ecuador and Colombia, are busy as can be cutting flowers and carefully packaging them so they survive the long journey north.  Boats, planes and trucks are gearing up to transport them all safely to your Valentine’s front door with a fairly large carbon footprint.

Sadly, as is the case with other tropical cash crops, such as coffee and chocolate, many flower producers across Latin America are reporting serious human rights violations in their workplace.  Acute pressure on production levels results in increased worker exploitation.  Did you know that the roses you may be buying this year might have been grown, cut and packaged by a woman who is working around the clock without breaks for very little money?

Don’t worry, I am not suggesting you avoid buying flowers for your loved one and try to explain the ethics behind it over a candle light dinner.  There are ethical and beautiful alternatives.

Here are two fairly simple solutions:

a) try to buy locally produced flowers (there are some green houses operating this time of year in North America), or

b) if you buy imported flowers from the south look for those that bear a FairTrade Certified Logo.

This year surprise your Valentine with a beautiful bouquet of flowers as well as a story of how these particular flowers are helping to make the world a better place.  This is sure to win you some extra points this Valentine’s Day!

See related blog entitled: Vancouver Olympics Sources Ethically Produced Flowers for Medal Ceremonies. This blog tells the story of how VANOC has made an effort to source flowers that meet ethical and environmental standards.

5 Comments leave one →
  1. March 8, 2010 6:01 am

    I like the idea of Fair Trade Flowers. It needs an online video… guy buys girl a bunch of long-stemmed roses which she proceeds to beat him over the head with as she berates him for not knowing where they came from….
    Keep up the good work!


  2. April 23, 2010 7:30 am

    hey….. I love to give flowers to my beloved. But I have not thought about its consequences once. Ya, you are right, on occasions like valentines day, many national resources are busy in just transporting the flowers. It does not mean that I dropped the plan of giving flowers to my beloved, but now I am going to choose the flowers that are available locally.

  3. February 11, 2011 2:58 pm

    A couple solid Fair Trade flower shops in Vancouver are Amoda Flowers ( and Olla Urban Flower Project in Gastown ( Both have locally sourced and fair trade flowers and gifts.


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