Who doesn’t like receiving flowers? Even if you’re not into the sentiment of Valentine’s Day, a bunch of mood-brightening blooms in mid-February are a welcome sight. It’s even better when you know that you’re receiving ethical flowers.
Cut flowers are not as innocent as they seem. That random bunch of roses in your average florist have probably been sprayed with nasty agricultural chemicals, and grown in places like Ecuador and Colombia on flower farms with less than ideal working conditions, to put it mildly. Workers handle dangerous chemicals, are forced to work long hours in awkward positions for low wages, and as the work is seasonal, it puts them at a disadvantage for negotiating better conditions.
Buying Ethical Flowers in Vancouver
However, you can make responsible choices when it comes to buying ethical flowers. As in chocolate and coffee, the Fair Trade designation (from the non-governmental organization Fairtrade International) on a bouquet of flowers means workers receive benefits like guaranteed vacation days and higher wages, and their workplaces have to meet healthy and safety standards. In Vancouver, you can find Fair Trade blooms at Choices Markets and Urban Fare locations, as well as many smaller, boutique florists.
Whole Foods’ Whole Trade program also looks to improve the lot of the people who grow their flowers. Better working conditions, higher wages, environmentally responsible growing practices and a fund supporting for community projects including schools and childcare makes these flowers a good choice.
Think Local for Valentine’s Day
Flowers are grown closer to home too, although you might have to adjust your expectations of the traditional Valentine’s Day bouquet. The Flower Factory on Main Street is filled with delicate orchids, grown in greenhouses in Abbotsford. Available both as plants and beautifully sculptural cut flowers, the beautiful fragility of an orchid would make a stunning Valentine’s Day gift.
The Olla Flower Project in Gastown carries Fair Trade blooms, but also takes their responsibility to their local neighbourhood seriously. They provide jobs to residents of the Downtown Eastside, and donate corporate flower orders that are no longer required to non-profits operating locally. Their work is simple, beautiful and different – just the thing for those with very modern tastes.
Choose your blooms wisely this Valentine’s Day, and opt for ethical flowers. After all, it’s not only the colour that sends a message.
Erin McGann is the former Managing Editor for Vancouver Mom and Toronto Mom Now. She drinks just a bit too much coffee, is a bit obsessed about sourcing local food, plays the cello moderately well, spends too much time on Twitter, keeps honeybees on a rooftop, and has a thing for single-malt whisky. Erin is working on a novel set in turn-of-the-century Vancouver, which her husband, son and dog have to hear about all the time, and also blogs at Erin at Large.