Opt for an Organic Bouquet

Tips on choosing a toxin-free, eco-friendly floral arrangement for Valentine’s Day ... or any day

Looking for flowers to send your sweetheart on Valentine’s Day? Hold it! Before you dial up 1-800-flowers, be sure to read the following tips on how to choose your bouquet. The cut-flower industry in the U.S. is a whopping $20 billion-a-year operation, and no small portion of that is reaped on Valentine’s Day. Be sure you're giving something truly lovable (ie. toxin free and planet positive) when you select your blooming beauties — on this holiday or any other.

Consider the consequences

No other agricultural sector uses higher levels of pesticides than the floral industry. And, since most of the flowers sold in the U.S. are imported, they’re often tainted with pesticides that are banned in this country, such as DDT.

These chemicals not only pollute waterways; they “may even remain on bouquets long enough to rub off on skin or be inhaled by your beloved,” according to a Grist.org article.

“When the Environmental Working Group tested a small sample of roses in 1997, they found residues of several pesticides at up to 50 times the amounts permitted in food.” That may explain why nearly two-thirds of Colombia’s flower laborers report illnesses linked to pesticide exposure.

Choose organic

Here’s the good news: It's easy going green on your flower purchases. Organic options are not only more fragrant and longer-lasting than conventional blooms, they’re becoming just as easy to order. Try, for starters, a quick trip to OrganicBouquet.com, where the selections go well beyond the usual roses-and-carnation fare and include tasteful arrangements of calla lillies, stargazers, blue delphiniums, purple statice, asters and veronicas.

Better yet, the prices are competitive. Also available are recycled glass vases and fair trade organic chocolates. Most importantly, the people behind Organicbouquet.com have the right idea: Founder Gerald Prolman aims to improve grower practices in Latin America and Africa by doing for the flower industry what Whole Foods has done for groceries.

Speaking of, if you don't have time to order online, and want to save on shipping fees, organic blooms can also be purchased at your local Whole Foods market.

Think outside the cellophane

You can also say “I love you” — more persuasively, even — with a longer-lasting alternative to cut flowers, such as potted plants or dried blooms. There’s something incredibly gratifying about forcing bulbs, for instance, and arguably you can't give a more fragrant or beautiful blossom than a paperwhite or an amaryllis. Learn all you need to know on this subject at Bulb.com. It makes a great gift on any occasion.

Or, you can go the dried-flower route. Elegant arrangements and wreaths of flax, larkspur, Sweet Annie, sunflowers and lemonleaf are available at the click of a mouse at Driedflowersdirect.com


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