And Be Wary: Valentine’s Day Flowers may come with more than you think

Roses & Gypsophila Silk Centerpiece

Roses & Gypsophila Silk Centerpiece

U.S. Customs and Border Protection is responsible for the inspection of imported fresh cut flowers. The primary purpose of the CBP inspections is to detect and prevent the introduction or insects and diseases into the United States. During the 2011 Valentine’s season, the CBP inspections resulted in a total of 3404 pest interceptions. Foreign fresh flower growers do not want their shipments to be intercepted for insects. It is important to note that the CBP does not inspect for the presence of pesticides. As a consequence, over-use of pesticides, including banned pesticides, is a major problem in the fresh cut flower industry. But that topic exceeds the scope of this blog. You can read more about pesticides on imported fresh cut flowers at this Google search page. You will find an abundance of informative articles and will draw your own conclusions. The fresh flower industry is working to reduce the misuse of pesticides by certification efforts.

 A Common Assumption

It’s easy to assume since fresh cut flowers are “natural”, they are a greener and more eco-friendly choice than artificial silk flowers. Choices are often based on first perceptions and comparisons of the environmental impact of the indoor use of fresh cut flowers to artificial silk flowers is not as obvious as one might first perceive. Anyone who is interested in green interior design and in maintaining an eco-friendly home should be aware of the facts.

While researching for this blog, we stumbled upon an article entitled, “Have an Eco Friendly Valentine’s Day,” posted February 12th, 2011. It is fairly typical of the impression many people have of silk flowers. The author of the article categorically states “a bouquet of silk flower is actually more harmful than a fresh bouquet of real roses” without offering any evidence to substantiate that claim. The statement is qualified by stating “the roses should be organically grown” and your local florist “will offer you organic or eco-certificated flowers” and “you can always purchase an organic bouquet of flowers online.”

Obviously, organic is better, but the author fails to mention that the organic and eco-certified fresh cut flowers should also be locally grown. More than 75% of the fresh cut flowers consumed in the U.S. are imported and shipped by air freight. The author also fails to relate that the online purchase will be shipped by air freight.

The Facts Prove a Different Story

Cleary it is not a valid assumption that fresh flowers are eco-friendly because they are “natural”. Part 1 of this Valentine’s Day blog discusses the massive Carbon Footprint created from the global air freight transportation of fresh cut flowers. It is true that the fresh flower industry is arduously working on certification efforts in an attempt to improve the use of pesticides by foreign growers, for that they should be applauded. Their eco-friendly labeling and certification reflects this effort, however it still ignores the impact of their global air freight carbon footprint. Perhaps the eco-friendly label could recommend that dead flowers be disposed in a compost to avoid filling up valuable land fill space and to prevent the production of methane; but wait… you may not want to contaminate your organic compost with the pesticides.

Bottom Line: Considering current worldwide industry practices, the only real eco-friendly fresh cut flowers are those which are locally, and organically, grown in season. 

See how silk flowers compare environmentally to fresh cut flowers’s shipping methods produce an extremely small carbon footprint. Our silk flowers are not contaminated with pesticides. And they are bio-stable in landfills after many years of use and re-use. Read our previous blogs, “Be Informed about Valentine’s Day Roses – Part 1” and “Fresh Flowers, Silk Flowers, and Biodegradability” and “The 3R’s of Artificial Silk Flowers” for more information and references. We think you will be quite surprised.


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