How about green roses for Valentines Day?
There has been a lot of controversy regarding the conditions in which flowers are grown in the second largest flower producing country in the world: Columbia.
The Colombian floriculture industry has long been accused of exposing workers to unsafe conditions such as dangerous levels of pesticides which can result in serious health problems. Other offenses include using underage workers.
Despite the dark cloud surrounding the floriculture industry in Colombia, there is one company that for the past 11 years has been committed to improving both worker’s rights and the damage done to the environment.
Founded in 1996, Florverde was started by a group of Colombian flower growers to insist on a common level of best practices that would improve the lives and living standards of all floral farm workers and their families.
Florverde certification ensures that farms follow more eco-friendly practices and abide by stricter work codes for their employees.
Over 171 farms are certified by Florverde, which is about half of Columbia’s floriculture industry. Workers benefit from added safety training, shorter work weeks averaging 46.5 hours a week, health insurance and other disability and retirement benefits. In addition, worker’s salaries are approximately 20 percent higher than the Colombian minimum wage and workers are required to be at least 18 years of age.
It is estimated that about 300 million Florverde certified flowers will be exported to the United States this Valentines day. Columbia benefits from great growing conditions including high altitudes and plentiful sunlight, making it one of the top flower exporters in the world.
As for environmentally friendly practices, although chemicals are still used, Florverde flowers today are grown with 50 percent less pesticides than in 1998 and comply with the United States regulations for chemical use. Florverde also encourages more eco-friendly pest control such as organic fertilization, rainwater collection and drip irrigation.
The certification is monitored by an international audit company in Switzerland SGS, which ensures that the farms are abiding by the rules. SGS (Société Générale de Surveillance) is the biggest inspection company in the world which includes over 1000 offices worldwide.
It is important to note that not all flowers are certified and depending on where they come from, some are more eco-friendly than others. So on this Valentines Day, before giving your loved one those beautiful fresh flowers, take the time to do a little research and make sure your token of affection is a little greener.