Don’t Buy Roses for Valentine’s Day – Try These Sustainable Alternatives Instead

Your romantic gesture has a bigger environmental impact than you think. 

Flowers, especially red roses, double in price this time of year. Ecuador exports up to 15 000 tonnes of flowers to the U.S. by plane in the three weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day alone, plus there are imports from countries like Colombia and Holland as well.  

This is an important thing to note, as greenhouse gas emissions have increased year on year, in large part due to transport. According to the International Council on Clean Transportation, those three weeks of flower delivery flights burn approximately 114 million litres of fuel, emitting approximately 360 000 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere.

Once the flowers get to the U.S. and Canada, they are shipped around the country in refrigerated trucks so that they don’t wilt. These trucks burn more fuel than average even before they’re loaded with cargo. Plus, many of them run on diesel, which produces more air pollutants than gasoline.

The cut flower industry is worth an estimated $55 billion USD, yet very little of that goes to the overworked and underpaid farmers who are working long hours to make sure these blooms are ready. They also have long-term exposure to dangerous chemicals and some women face sexual harassment. 

Who knew that something so romantic could contribute to something so awful? 

Here are some alternatives to cut flowers for Valentine’s Day. 

Buy them a pot plant

Give your loved one a cute succulent (or even a rose bush) that will improve the air quality in their home and last them much longer than cut flowers.

Buy local and organic

Seek out flowers that are grown and shipped locally, and are also organic and pesticide-free.

Give them a handmade gift

A cute card or creative gift that you made yourself, like a scrapbook with some of your favorite memories, will go a long way to saying ‘I love you’.

How about a bag? 

A cute purse never hurt nobody. Check out our list of 15+ Sustainable Bags, Purses, & Backpacks.

A rose by any other name…

Instead of actual roses, give your sweetheart something rose scented. A beautiful candle, a cool bath bomb or some body lotion all work well.

[Our picks: Skwalwen’s wild rose skincare, Thistle & Sage’s rose bath bombs, or Mala’s Rosebud candle]

A cute, easy, and eco friendly DIY idea!
Get crafty

You can make fake flowers from recyclable paper and make a whole bouquet. It’s original, cute and sustainable!

Get baking

Make something yummy and possibly heart shaped and even rose scented!

And just in case you get flowers anyway, remember to…

Compost them!

If you do receive flowers this year, do the right thing and compost them instead of throwing them in the trash where they contribute to greenhouse gases. If you don’t have a compost bin, simply put the flowers in the garden where they can decompose naturally and their nutrients will contribute to the soil.

Follow Carmen Williams:
Carmen lives with her cat, Peeves in Cape Town, South Africa. She is a freelance journalist and copywriter with over 10 years' experience in all things digital. She’s written on various subjects from finance, to sustainability, to relationships for many brands, including Aurora Sustainability, TotalBeauty and News24.

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