Watcher Blossoms

All of the work in this series focuses on issues under the umbrella of human impact on the environment. These ‘Watcher Blossoms’ are representative of nature as a witness to our choices and actions. The first three works in this series came about because of two bouquets of flowers. After I bought them, I started to think about all of the steps and resources involved in being able to have those exact flowers. 

What I found was surprising…

As expected, this industry has a marked impact on the environment. For example, of the average 100 million roses that are shipped to the U.S. for Valentine’s Day, they produce 9,000 metric tons of CO2 emissions. This is the equivalent of average CO2 emissions from one year of 1,956 cars on the road. In Ecuador, growing 12,000 roses released 13,200 pounds of C02. This is drastically different than Holland’s results of 77,150 pounds of CO2 even having produced the same number of roses. Unlike Ecuador, Holland doesn’t have the same natural, ideal growing conditions. As a result, their flower farms require additional resources like artificial light and heat.

When calculating an activity’s impact on the environment, every detail is considered. In this case, shipping and how employees get to and from flower farms. Ecuador and a few others maintain a lower carbon footprint because the majority of their employees ride a bike to work. As for shipping, this industry remains a scourge. Planes and ships are gas hogs. The good news is those industries are working on becoming eco-friendly. In the meantime try something to offset your carbon footprint if you buy flowers. You could skip a burger which would be the equivalent of taking a car off of the road 320 miles.

Now you know the bad. Here’s the good: There are MANY flower farms that do not require a greenhouse - benefiting the surrounding wildlife. And by implementing energy-saving techniques like drip irrigation and rain water collection systems, this industry is quickly improving.(only two techniques of many). This 8.5 billion dollar industry also provides numerous jobs all over the world. For some countries, it’s their primary source of income. Brands like Florverde (found in major retailers) even provide child care, health care, and education to employees because of the success of flower farms. The total loss of this industry would be devastating.

I chose to focus on this industry because it’s small enough to see its impact, both positive and negative. You can see how innovative farming techniques and a stewardship for the planet have improved the industry and not disrupted cash flow. And it’s an industry with a sense of social responsibility to its workers. What I hope you take away from this is that there are issues in this industry that need to be addressed. But there are a hell of a lot of positives. As we face other issues relating to climate change, do so with a sense of urgency rather than paralyzing fear. And approach each issue with a sense of curiosity and a chance for creative problem solving. The correct solution isn’t necessarily black and white.

My homework for anyone reading this is to begin thinking about what goes into you having the life that you have. Maybe there’s room to make some edits.

Sources & Suggested Further Reading - Meatless Monday
Nature Conservancy - Calculate Your Carbon Footprint
Scientific American - Blooms Away

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