Greener Flowers for our Earth
It's World Earth Day today and it seemed as good an excuse as any to break my blog writing drought. Being green is a subject close to my heart. I joined Greenpeace in my early teens and my first greenpeace walk was to Save the Whales. I wore the t-shirt and everything :) I remember making my mum and older sister use this very sticky "Ozone-Friendly" hairspray (remember this was the eighties when hair was impossibly big!) much to their disgust. Ozone depletion is a concern for many countries and now I find myself living in a country with serious concerns about ozone depletion. Seems like it's going to take more than a change in hair spray. I've taken my tree hugging tendencies with me as I've moved through life and now I'm seeing all kinds of news stories about the state of our oceans that I was fighting to protect 20 years ago. It seems that sadly it's got to a point where we can no longer turn a blind eye.
So what has this got to do with flowers? Many consumers aren't even aware of the amount of chemicals that their flowers have been treated with before arriving in a vase in their home. We are very consumer aware about the origins of our food and whether our fruit and veges have been treated with chemicals yet flowers and chemicals haven't entered the public consciousness yet. Or at least this issue is just beginning to be talked about. Just recently a friend admitted that she wasn't concerned about flowers being treated with chemicals because she didn't eat them. Fair point but what's the first thing you do when you get a bunch of flowers? Sniff them? Yes of course you do and if these flowers have been dipped in fungicide you will be inhaling those chemicals. Then you'll unwrap them from the plastic, touch the stems to snip the ends and those chemicals will be absorbed through your skin. Then, once the flowers have had their day you may responsibly compost them and add that compost at a later date to your vege patch. The chemicals then enter the food chain and you will consume them through your carefully grown veges. Not all flowers are grown this way but it is always worth asking where your flowers come from and what chemicals they may have been exposed to. So what can we do when buying flowers without turning our lives upside-down?
This is a really easy one. If you can possibly buy local and support your community then do this. Not only are you reducing car/air miles but you are also more able to actually build a relationship with the local business and you'll be able to ask where your flowers come from and whether they've been sprayed with harmful chemicals. Many florists support local growers (and thank you to those who support me) and proudly advertise this. Of course not everything can be grown in your local area so sometimes florists will have to obtain imported flowers. It's all about balance and it's all about choice. Also It's very tricky for growers to be totally organic because it's very difficult (impossible in some cases) to source organic seeds, tubers, corms and bulbs. Look for Spray Free and you'll be pretty safe in the knowledge that these blooms will not have been in contact with harmful chemicals.
This is a no brainer to me. We've been encouraged to buy fruit and vegetables seasonally and it makes total sense. They taste better because they're being grown when nature meant for them to be grown. Who has ever eaten an imported strawberry in mid winter? Disappointing right? It barely resembles the strawberries grown in summer. No taste and half the size. Then there's all the electricity used to grow it in the first place. There's just no point. It's the same with flowers. Don't ask your florist for dahlias in Spring or tulips in Autumn. Enjoy the huge variety of flowers as they bloom throughout the season. It might be a case of stepping out of your comfort zone and trying a bloom that you're not familiar with. I hold various workshops throughout the season and love to introduce new flowers to people. Look out for my seasonal Pick n Mix bunches available from next Spring. An easy way to try new flower varieties that you may come to love.
Avoid plastic wrapped flowers