The UK market for conventional flowers is huge, raking in 1.5 Billion pounds a year. 90% of which are imported. There has been an 85% increase in air freighted flowers in the last four years alone, all being moved around the world using energy intensive refrigeration. Last year 19,000 tons of flowers were flown from Kenya to the UK, racking up 33,000 tons of CO2 emissions.
So for pretty things in a vase they punch well above their weight when it comes to environmental fallout. They are grown using copious amounts of fertilizer, insecticides, fungicides, nematocides and plant growth regulators, generally washed into our waterways.
Unless consumers start demanding ethical flowers, the flower of the future will be destined to be a globalised, pesticide ridden bloom, grown on a vast monoculture plain and developed at the expense of indigenous flora and fauna by workers paid a pittance. A rose by any other name but it definitely won’t smell sweet.
Lucy Seigle. (Writing for the Guardian)
The Cutting Garden Expands | The Little Herb Farm
January 18, 2012 @ 11:15 pm
[…] to buy cut flowers from local ethical growers. Many are highlighted in a recent post on the Higgledy Garden blog (though I take a little umbrage at the title ‘why buy English cut flowers’) and include […]
January 17, 2012 @ 7:16 pm
Wow, what a powerfully-written argument!
I assume Kenyan flower production is so much cheaper that it’s created this situation. It reminds me of how, here in the US, asparagus production moved from Washington and Oregon to Peru!
An interesting thing happened In Oregon: one innovative fellow completely re-conceived how to produce and package his asparagus, and came up with a system that let him compete with his Peruvian rivals. It was a very inspiring story here!
January 18, 2012 @ 8:53 am
Have you got a link to that story Emmon? The English flower industry collapsed by trying to directly compete on price but could nevr compete with the virtually free labor overseas. We should have competed on quality…I aim to be top end quality but keep my prices reasonable…also…be super eco…. we shall see. :) Thx for posting.