Have you ever considered that fresh flowers might not be eco-friendly? If you buy fresh cut flowers for your dining table every week, fear not, in this post we’ll look at why most shop-bought flowers are not eco-friendly and how you can buy fresh flowers sustainably. So how can flowers be harmful to the environment? Sadly, most ordinary cut shop-bought flowers are the exact opposite of eco-friendly when you take into account the growing and shipping process of getting them to the shelves of the supermarket. With around 90% of the UK’s cut flowers being imported from abroad, the air miles alone are enough to make anyone wince.
When you add that to the fact that many imported flowers are full of toxic chemicals, it makes the thought of them even less appealing. Studies have shown that chemicals used on imported cut flowers damage people’s health throughout the chain, from the farm workers to the florists handling the flowers, pretty shocking right?
So how do you enjoy beautiful fresh flowers sustainably?
Choose British-grown cut flowers
By buying British-grown cut flowers (if you’re in the UK of course), not only are you eliminating air miles but you’re also supporting flower farms that are either organic or have strict codes of practice on the chemicals they use on their flowers. Your local flower farmer may well grow their flowers organically, like we do here at Horseshoe Farm Flowers in Lancaster. There are also many florists who are now starting to use British-grown cut flowers, often bought from their local flower farmer.
In the UK, 80% of cut flowers come via the Netherlands, although a significant proportion originate in Kenya.– British Florist Association
Organic cut flowers are happy, healthy flowers that are safe for you and your family to be around. Buying from smaller-scale British flower farms also means that you have access to some more unusual cut flowers that you don’t often find in a shop or traditional florist’s, e.g. sweet peas and garden roses with their delicious scent. Locally-grown flowers are also significantly fresher than imported flowers; flowers from your local farmer may well have been freshly picked earlier that same day, bright and early, rather than being transported across the world for four days.
Research for your nearest flower farmer
Small-scale, organic British flower farmers are in touch with nature and work respectfully with the environment and animals rather than against them. The variety of crops growing at a flower farm supports a wide range of wildlife, leaving a significant positive impact on the local environment.
So next time you wonder about buying a bunch of flowers, why not order from your local flower farmer and support the environment at the same time? To find out where your nearest flower farmer is, please visit www.flowersfromthefarm.co.uk
Learn more about the cut flower trade
To learn more about where fresh cut flowers come from, have a read of Amy Stewart’s book, Gilding the Lily. The BBC article here is also a great introduction to the imported cut flower trade.
Words by Laura Blakeley and Martin Hedley, the flower farmers behind Horseshoe Farm Flowers. Laura and Martin grow and sell fresh cut flowers on their small flower farm in Lancaster. They grow flowers using organic, eco-friendly methods and ensure that they support nature rather than impede it. Laura and Martin are proud members of Flowers from the Farm, a network of British flower farmers who work tirelessly to promote British-grown flowers.