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How polluting are cut flowers?

How polluting are cut flowers? Very polluting is the answer. Do you have to stop having flowers in your house altogether, then? Luckily you don't have to, there is a good alternative: dried flowers. With 1 bunch, you can replace up to 100 bunches of fresh cut flowers, if you normally buy fresh flowers every week.
how polluting are cut flowers? Image Ina Hoekstra via Pixabay

How polluting are cut flowers? Very very polluting. After 1 week, they are ready to be discarded. And for that one week, a lot of environmental damage is caused. Nothing natural, unfortunately.

Dried flowers are no longer as dull as they were in the 1970s. They can be very colourful and beautiful in composition. And sometimes smell really good too, like lavender for example. They last up to 2 years or even longer, with a little bit of maintenance.

Recently, dried flowers have become quite fashionable again and I hope it stays that way.

How polluting are cut flowers and why are they so polluting?

Most cut flowers come from warmer countries (Ecuador, Kenya and Ethiopia) and because it is a product that has to reach the seller quickly, they are flown in. If you do your best to fly less, it is your flowers that are on a plane.

If they don’t come from a warmer country, they often come from a heated greenhouse. And that is also anything but good for the environment, of course. Not to mention pesticides used in cultivation and water use. Nature is already under far too much pressure to continue using so many pesticides, it really can’t be done. And the water use in countries that often already suffer from shortages: let them use the water to grow food.

Now you might think it’s not so bad, after all, it’s only flowers? But then you will be deceived.
On Ideas.ted.com, I read that the global flower business is booming at USD 55 billion a year. (!) That’s a lot of needless air miles, a lot of pesticides etc.

So choose dried flowers, but be careful

Dried flowers replace many polluting cut flowers. They do last for 2 years. But dried flowers are only an alternative if they are grown sustainably and if you leave them much longer than cut flowers.

  • they must be ecologically produced
  • they should not come from a heated greenhouse, of course
  • they must be dried naturally, using no energy at all
  • of course they should not be flown in
  • and they must not use a lot of water
  • and not dyed with chemicals (yes, that happens too)
  • use them a long time

Do you also want to stop contributing to the polluting flower industry?
Then opt for dried flowers.


So never fresh flowers again?

That’s not necessary either. Buy fresh flowers from the cold ground in summer, from an organic grower or from an organic picking garden near you. Or get them from your own (organic) garden. That’s a nice addition to the prettiest dried flowers, which will last much longer in your home and, of course, it’s okay to change them once in a while.

Read more: Sustainable gifts good for the environment

Mariette van Schaik
Mariette van Schaik

owner of Essential.blue

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