Romance isn’t dead... according to cargo stats, in the UK we import millions of tonnes of roses just in time for Valentines Day. This got us questioning the environmental repercussions of all those Roses that are sold each year, and the labour that goes into the now iconic symbol of love.
In 2014 the Guardian wrote an expose on the nation's favourite go-to gifts, revealing that much loved chocolates were made by people that were in slavery. And furthermore 70% of the Roses in our shops are imported were bought in from Kenya. This means these well intentioned purchases are accompanied by not just a huge carbon footprint but questionable labour practices. In Latin America, 70% of workers in the flower industry are women who earn less than $1 a day and are submitted to exploitative working conditions, often on short term contracts that are not renewed if workers become ill, pregnant or attempt to unionise. The high demand that Valentines day creates, means many workers have to work double shifts, exposing them to injuries such as tendonitis and carpal tunnel syndrome and exposure to toxic chemicals used to grow flowers.
So what can you do about it? On a day designed to encourage us to share the love let’s find ways to show others we care with sustainable options that don't support exploitation and environmental damage.
Here are our top tips for sustainable alternatives to your Roses and Chocolates, that smell a whole lot sweeter.
- To guarantee a fair wage is being paid to the people growing our flowers try Arena, which is among a number of UK firms selling ethically grown flowers and has a certified fairtrade range of flowers.
- Our favourite ethical and slave free chocolate: Pana Chocolate, Divine (owned by cocoa workers whose chocolate is 100% Fairtrade), Seed and Bean (organic and Fairtrade alternative with 100% compostable packaging).
- Ask local florists about Fairtrade flowers and whether they can source great ethical or locally options. Your question may spark a change for them or encourage them to look into using an more ethical supply chain.
At Know The Origin, we want to continue searching for answers, pushing for better working conditions for people worldwide and encourage conscious shopping not just on Valentines day but everyday. From us all at Know The Origin, we hope you have a lovely Valentines Day!
Image references: Title image - Taken from The Guardian (https://www.theguardian.com/sustainable-business/2015/feb/12/the-women-suffering-for-your-valentines-day-flowers)