You want to purchase flowers for someone special. You also want to be socially responsible. Where do you start?
I started by talking to my florist.
Dukhee is from Korea, and has been a florist in my city for some 35 years. She’s my savior when it comes to all things floricultural, always patient with my questions, and helpful in her suggestions.
Dukhee buys local when the season is right and the "flowers are stronger and last longer." She likes to sell fairtrade flowers, but the options are limited. And with flower quality (and happy customers) as her bottom line, she sticks with suppliers with reliable, good product. I understand, it’s just good business (and a reason why she is a favourite florist in my neighbourhood).
My conversation with Dukhee aligned well with my research.
According to Fairtrade Canada, the majority of cut flowers sold in Canada come from Latin America. Most are not produced in Fairtrade certified facilities meaning we know little about the labour conditions or exposure to pesticides.
Fairtrade notes that working conditions have vastly improved over the years but problems still exist, including low pay, sexual harassment and exposure to pesticides. This independent 2015 article
gives a glimpse inside a flower farm in Colombia.
My top three thoughts when buying flowers.
- Ask for locally sourced flowers. You know the labour, health and safety regulations protecting those who touched your gift. And your flowers will have a lower carbon footprint.
- Ask for Fairtrade flowers. Some grocery stores and markets stock fairtrade flowers seasonally. Certification you might look for are Fairtrade, Veriflora, Rainforest Alliance and Sierra Eco. Florverde is a less stringent voluntary program.
- Consider a plant. They generally come from local producers and will give your special someone weeks of blooms. Though I have to report, Dukhee’s nose scrunched at my suggestion, coming just before Valentine’s Day, “If you know the person really well, maybe.”
Need help finding a fair trade florist?
Use these use websites to help you find florists who offer local, fair trade and organic options:
And if you’re someone special is more into chocolates, check out World Vision Canada’s updated Good Chocolate Guide
Eight-year-old Rosemary picks sunflower seeds from the family farm in Zambia. Sponsorship and a gift of goats have helped the family go from hunger and debt to a diversified and stable income.