Larraine Roulston May’21

For Mother Nature - Go Local

By Larraine Roulston

Flowers are one of the most popular Mother’s Day gifts. When given, there is also the good feeling that when roses wilt, their petals and stems nourish the ground through composting. These attributes make people believe that flowers are an eco-friendly gift. The environmental downside, however, is due to their long-distance travel to markets.

A study showed that in 2017, 4 billion flowers weighing 200,000 metric tons were air transported from South America to the USA. These cargo boxes resulted in burning 114 million litres of fuel while emitting approximately 360,000 metric tons of CO2. This figure, estimated using the average weight of the flowers, did not include the weight of packaging.

Mother Nature must endure not only the consequences of lengthy air travel but also the fuel impact of the refrigerated delivery trucks en route to a variety of retailers. The cellophane wrap in most municipal facilities is not recyclable. In addition, many florists claim that those individual plastic stem tubes need to be disinfected and therefore can not be reused. Large scale producers use pesticides to grow their flowers as well as chemical sprays to help maintain their freshness and enhance their colour. If bouquets are discarded in landfill sites, they emit greenhouse gases; however, when composted, one needs to be mindful of these toxins. Perhaps the best solution, as done with naturally toxic rhubarb leaves, is to place them in a remote location in your yard to decompose.

In her headline regarding floral displays, Jennifer Grayson of the Washington Post states, “Flowers may be nice for Mom, but they’re terrible for Mother Earth.”

During this calendar year, you may have several occasions to purchase bouquets. Flowers are the symbol of love. They have become the traditional wedding décor, are given at graduations and other family celebrations, grace tables at events and office reception desks, are offered as appreciation gifts, are bestowed upon sick friends, and they are used to express sympathy. You can make a difference if you choose locally grown flowers. Where possible, select them individually and refuse the cellophane or paper wrapping.

Amy Stewart, author of ‘Flower Confidential’ notes that flowers such as sweet peas and love-in-a-mist do not ship well and therefore are not grown on a large industrial scale. Stewart also suggests that you would be supporting local farmers who can also grow flowers as a rotating crop. These will help rejuvenate the soil and attract pollinators. Stewart added, “You’ll get much more interesting varieties.”

Another way to say ‘You are the Best Mom’ is to choose living gifts that are gentle on our earth. Purchase a bouquet of herbs or an herbal garden planter, an edible flower kit, a potted plant, a native shrub, bulbs to enhance a balcony planter box, or an assortment of organic pollinator seed packets.

Related Links: 

Jennifer Grayson of the Washington Post

Brandon Graver of the International Council on Clean Transportation

~ Larraine writes children’s books that highlight the joy of composting and pollinating with the adventures of Pee Wee at Castle Compost. With illustrations, songs, and poems, the stories unearth the miracles of nature’s cycle of life. Fun and factual for all ages. To order, postage free visit: