This is why you shouldn’t buy roses this Valentine’s Day

Historically, nothing says Valentine’s Day more than a big bunch of red roses – so strong is the association, in fact, that around 570 tonnes of roses are shipped to the UK each February.

But with the day of love looming on the horizon, sustainabilty groups say that it’s worth thinking twice before plumping for a bouquet of the classic crimson bloom for your Valentine’s Day flowers.

red roses
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Those 570 tonnes of roses are imported in from places such as Kenya and the Netherlands, and carry a mammoth carbon footprint of at least 32kg of CO2 per bouquet of flowers, according to the SSAW Collective. The group says flowers are often grown in ways that are harmful to the planet and even the people picking them – they require high water, fuel and energy usage, plus the use of pesticides which can cause toxic chemical run-off and pose health risks to the farm workers picking them.

why buy roses in February
SSAW Collective

This is why the group of florists and growers are campaigning to change our approach to flower-buying. SSAW Collective (who create seasonal British-grown flower bunches) has launched the campaign ‘Why Buy Roses in February?’, which is advising romantics to turn to British-grown cyclamen and snowdrops this February instead – which are in full bloom and plentiful at this time of year – rather than roses grown abroad and imported to the UK by air.

cyclamen bunch
SSAW Collective

A bouquet containing 15 stems of flowers grown and sold in the UK produces just 1.7kg of CO2 – a total of 95 per cent less carbon emissions than those grown abroad. SSAW Collective sell their own hand-tied bunches of cyclamens, available for delivery in London zones 1-3 or for pick-up from their north London studio or Leila’s Shop in Bethnal Green. For those outside of London, any bunch of British-grown flowers is a more sustainable choice for your Valentine’s Day flowers.

Florist and flower farmer 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.’

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