by Sarah Parker
It’s V-Day my friends! And like any good last-minute shopper, you know that flowers make a great a gift. Did you also know that those beautiful flowers from your local florist or grocery store may have come from Columbia, Ecuador, or Kenya?
Flowers are flown in from these countries year round, where warmer climates, cheaper labor, and lax pesticide laws allow for low wholesale prices and higher profits. As you can imagine, these conditions are ripe for slave labor conditions. According to The Toronto Star, not only are there concerns about working conditions in the industry, but commercial flowers produced in South America have been reported to be some of the most toxic, chemically-treated crops in the world. Women and children are the main cut-flower workers and can suffer not only from health and safety hazards, but also sexual harassment, abuse, and low to no wage conditions.
Different countries have instituted their own voluntary “green” certification initiatives and fair labor regulations for cut-flower workers; programs like Florverde in Colombia, Sello Verde in Ecuador, and the Kenyan Flower Council. Each has a different set of standards depending on their country’s own regulations. Some of the programs spend more time promoting themselves than they do caring for the workers they supposedly protect. And since kids are harmed by pesticide poisoning much quicker than adults, they need to spend less time on marketing and more time actually meeting the International Code of Conduct.
On the bright side, TransFair USA certification is one you can trust. If you see it, it means you can rest assured that your flowers were cut by workers receiving a fair wage and proper working conditions. They even have a list of fair trade flowers available online and in stores. So go ahead, click that link and get your sweetie some Valentine’s Day flowers. When it’s the thought that counts, your mind can rest easy knowing this one’s a no-brainer.
Photo credit: mollypop