Roses are a well-known symbol of Valentine’s Day, but is it time to think about the eco-impact of this flower?
SSAW Collective thinks so.
The community of florists, growers and chefs has launched a new campaign called ‘Why Buy Roses in February?’ to highlight the unconscious consumption of roses over Valentine’s Day.
The campaign seeks to help consumers think about why they buy roses, where they come from in the first place and to choose a more eco-friendly option instead.
Here’s what you need to know.
What’s the problem with roses in February?
570 tonnes of roses are used for Valentine’s Day in the UK every year with a whopping carbon footprint to match.
The problem is roses in February are often imported from places like the Netherlands or Kenya.
This means your average bouquet of roses could have a carbon footprint of about 32kg.
So, to squeeze out every penny they can, these roses are grown as cheaply as possible with high water, fuel and energy usage.
Plus, unregulated pesticides and fertilisers are used which harm workers, wildlife and pollute the environment.
What is the Why Buy Roses campaign?
SSAW Collective’s campaign aims to encourage consumers to ‘wake up and smell the roses’ about this popular love token – and to also change attitudes towards flowers as a whole.
Just like food provenance, SSAW Collective wants consumers to choose flowers in line with the season, with an emphasis on home-grown varieties and regenerative farming practices.
And advocating for small, independent UK growers that follow sustainable and ethical practices.
The carbon footprint of seasonal flowers is significantly reduced too.
For example, a bouquet containing sixteen stems of flowers grown in the UK produces just 1.7kg of carbon emissions in comparison to 32kg produced by those that have been imported.
Co-Founder, Jess Geissendorfer, says: “There’s no better time to examine our relationship with flowers here in Britain.
“Flowers are a luxury, yet in similar vein to fast fashion our perception of value has become misconceived and there is very little transparency in the supply chain of imported blooms.
“We have so many beautiful British varieties and flower farms in the UK, treating yourself to a bunch of cut flowers doesn’t need to come at an environmental cost to our planet.”
What flowers should you buy instead of roses?
SSAW suggest you choose UK grown seasonal cyclamen and snowdrops for Valentine’s Day rather than roses that have been grown abroad.
Those who do through their florists such will also receive a poster illustrated by woodcut artist Rosanna Morris.
These flowers are offered as part of its new range of British flower subscriptions that change with the seasons launching this February and running to October.
Flower fans in London can subscribe and receive hand-tied single-variety bunches of flowers that have been grown by regenerative and organic farming practices and without the use of pesticides.
Each flower variety is carefully chosen to reflect the diversity of British home-grown flowers.
Co-founder Olivia Wilson said: “Our subscription service offers a chance to follow the changing of the seasons with flowers grown locally in harmony with nature.
“Focusing on a single variety bunch each time from spring bulbs to delicate annuals to interesting perennials showcasing the true bounty and beauty of the British flower growing season.
“Our flexible subscriptions mean that people can treat themselves to fresh flowers at a time that suits them safe in the knowledge that they are supporting local growers to manage the upfront costs of growing seasonal produce in a way that is sustainable environmentally, ethically and economically.”
SSAW Collective’s flower delivery subscriptions are currently only available to those living in London. One-off purchases are also available. Visit the website to learn more about switching to British-grown flowers this Valentine’s Day.