We understand that you want to use your purchasing power to reflect your values. However, shopping ethically can be complicated. Here are some key tenets to consider when making purchases that help support sustainable sourcing: Buy local when you can; grow your own flowers; or supplement with your own backyard items. These steps support local economies and reduce your carbon footprint.
However, given that 80% of flowers in the U.S. are grown internationally and most local farms don’t grow the staple flowers of floral design, the reality is that you will usually be shopping for flowers grown abroad. This is similar to clothing, coffee, technology, and so many other things you use on a daily basis.
How do I know what’s if something is ethical?
Look for certifications! In an ideal world, you’d have time to properly investigate each vendor and ask all the questions you want. However, time limitations and information overload are a (big) thing. The solution is to check whether your vendors are certified by a recognized third party. Certification organizations hold farms accountable to environmental standards and to fair treatment of workers. The key agencies for flowers are:
Rainforest Alliance: Marked with a green frog, this certification focuses on sound environmental practices. It rejects the use of chemicals with documented negative effects on the local ecosystem and the health of workers. It audits farms to measure the quantity and type of pesticides used. It is also committed to reforestation efforts, projects to improve soil resilience, and to expand water conservation practices.
Fair Trade Certified: This is the highest caliber of certification in flowers. Not only are the auditing and initial certification process more rigorous, but farms must also commit a portion of their profits to worker-led projects. On the environmental front, they’re the strictest about chemical use and employee exposure to harmful pesticides and chemicals. It can take years to become Fair Trade certified, and only the most committed make it to the end. Our Fair Trade-certified farms provide higher than minimum wage salaries, offer overtime pay, and health care benefits for employees.
Farm-direct shipping. This bypasses stopovers that increase the carbon footprint of transporting products. It also allows farms to cultivate and ship according to demand. Since flowers have such a short shelf life, there is enormous waste in the floral industry. Nearly 45 percent of all flowers die before they get to the final customer. Ordering directly means that farms can ship flowers knowing they will definitely go to someone who intends to use them, rather than into the garbage.
Packaging. Always check to ensure that the packaging is minimal and recyclable. (And then, of course, do your part to recycle those materials!). Flowers are completely organic material and should be composted. We use mineral paper wherever we can because it protects the flowers and later disintegrates instead of living on forever in landfills. We have more work to do, but it’s an important step in the right direction.
We continue to look for ways to do better, and we commend you for your efforts to be an ethical flower customer. Together, we can make a difference.