Roses may be red, but they’re definitely not green according to research from Scientific American. As millions of partners exchange bunches of red roses in the run up to Valentine’s Day, they may want to consider that the traditional flower of love has an environmental impact worse than most other crops. In fact, according to environmental flower site Flowerpetal.com, the 100 million roses grown for a typical Valentine’s Day in the US produce some 9,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions.
According to Scientific American’s podcast, as roses are generally grown in warmer climates—such as South America for US markets and Africa for Europeans—they have to be flown all over the world. On top of the flights, they also have to be driven in temperature-controlled trucks across countries and stored overnight in cold boxes.
For UK/European lovers, a 2007 study by Cranfield University in England found that 12,000 Kenyan roses resulted in 13,200 pounds (6,000 kilograms) of CO2, while the equivalent number grown in a Dutch hothouse emitted 77,150 pounds (35,000 kilograms) of CO2.
But that’s just the cost of growing and transporting them: roses also need watering and the use of pesticides in order to make them look as beautiful as possible. Also of concern is where the flowers are grown—native forest and wetlands from all over the world have been displaced to make way for floral plantations, and the runoff from the pesticides has had a massive impact on local wildlife.
Oh and I forgot to mention the fuel needed for those refrigeration trucks: all fossils fuels, not to mention the fact that refrigerant gases also exacerbate climate change. If you want to get flowers for your other half, we’d like to recommend greener alternatives such as VeriFlora, which sources its flowers locally. Or why even bother with flowers? Why not for something even greener like a pedal-powered washing machine?
LEGAL NOTICE: This writer (or Inhabitat) is not responsible for the breakdown of your relationship or the slaps you may receive if you give your girlfriend a pedal-powered washing machine on Valentine’s Day.