Over 190 million roses will be bought for Valentine‚Äôs Day this year along with chocolate and jewelry.¬† I had never really given much thought about where the flowers we buy at the store are grown.¬† It turns out that about 80% of cut flowers sold in the United States come from overseas.¬† (www.oneworldflowers.org).¬† They are grown mostly in Central American, Northern South America, and Africa where the climates are conducive to year round growing.¬† Non fair trade flowers are laden with pesticides and other chemicals to keep them looking fresh for the stores.¬† At any time, over 120 chemicals are used in the flower growing industry, some of which are carcinogenic.
Flower producers employ mostly women often paying them only $1 per day.¬† In addition to chemical exposure, they are exposed to other dangerous working conditions, long working hours, inability to organize for fair wages, and in some cases sexual harassment.¬†¬† While many are happy to have a job, they are still living on the margins of society.
It is common practice to think about fair trade in the context of coffee and chocolate as well as jewelry.¬† These items are getting easier to find, especially here in NE Ohio.¬†We also need to consider flowers when we think of fair trade products.
Certified fair trade flower producers must provide safe working conditions, limit the types of chemicals they use, pay a living wage, and allow for workers to unionize for their own protection and well-being.¬†¬†¬† The advantage to purchasing fair trade flowers is a guarantee that a woman is being paid a living wage, receiving access to health care, there is no child labor and the environment is not being affected.¬† You can also guarantee that you will not have to worry about hazardous chemicals when you give them to your sweetheart.¬† Plus, you get higher quality flowers.¬† Worth every penny.
Our website has links to two online sites that sell certified fair trade flowers to individuals.¬†¬†¬† Fair Trade America and Fair Trade USA provide a list of businesses that sell flowers wholesale.¬† Print out the lists and share it with your local florist.¬† Let them know that when they buy and sell fair trade flowers they are making a difference in the lives of women.¬† And that you will be more inclined to buy flowers from them rather than the supermarket next time.
Check out these sites to learn more about certified fair trade flowers: