“Flowers are the beautiful hairs of the Mother Spring! Don’t pluck them!”
Mehmet Murat ildan
As Mothering Sunday approaches, sales of cut flowers in the UK rise dramatically. But before you carefully select a posy of pristine blooms, or grab a last minute bouquet from the garage forecourt, take a few moments to consider the hidden message lurking behind the cellophane & ribbons.
About 90% of flowers bought in the UK are imported from counties like Africa, South America & South East Asia. Workers, often women & children, are poorly paid & work in largely unregulated conditions where they are exposed to a toxic cocktail of herbicides, fungicides & pesticides. Less stringent legislation means that chemicals such as DDT, methyl bromide & dieldrin can be used, despite being banned in other countries. Pesticide related heath problems are prevalent amongst workers & their families.
The chemicals used in the cut flower industry also have a severe impact on the environment, damaging fragile ecosystems when they enter the soil & water. Birds, animals, insects & fish suffer illness, death & habitat destruction as a result, with a further knock on effect for humans who are then faced with dwindling supplies of fish & drinking water.
The exact history of Mother’s Day is unclear but, whatever its origins, we are all sons & daughters of Earth, all dependent on her bounty & connected to each other by our interdependence. So choose a Mother’s Day gift that honours & respects all life – wildflower seeds to encourage bees & other insects, teasel & sunflowers to provide autumn food for birds, traditional cottage garden plants such as calendula & lavender for use in home make cosmetics, or plant a small fruit tree or an organic herb garden.
Make your floral message an ethical & sustainable one.