Valentines is here again. Most of us are thinking gifting our loved ones with a bouquet of their favorite type of flowers. Red roses, are the most commonly gifted flowers during this period.

Flowers are beautiful and they convey various messages. However, the rosy business is turning into a thorny one for the environment.

How are cut-flowers Impacting the Environment

In almost all occasions , which include weddings and Funerals, flowers pay a central role in giving vibrance and  setting the mood. Since the cut-flowers are perishable ,they do not last forever and require to be replaced after they wither and die eventually. As much as withering may not seem as an alarming problem, the process involved to bring the radiant bouquet is harming the environment. Here are some of the ways the environment is suffering.

Chemicals

The billion dollar cut flower industry relies heavily on chemicals to ensure the flowers grow fast and in  the perfect. For years, the biggest producer of cut-flowers was the netherlands, producing over 40 percent of the global demand of flowers. The rest of the production is done in countries such as Kenya, Ethiopia, Ecuador and Colombia.

Chemical Spraying in Flower Farms

The flower growing process requires vast amounts of agro-chemicals despite many of them being labelled “eco-friendly farmed.” The agrochemicals used are poorly regulated and have adverse effects as they leach into soil and water. Furthermore, they are harmful to the people and animals surrounding the flower farms as most are topically applied.

However, the 1987   Montreal Protocol came phased out the floricultural chemical use of Methyl Bromide in the United States and all other flower growing countries.

Water Misuse and Pollution

Adding to the heavy chemical leaching, Flower farms use vast amounts of water. Due to this, the concept of virtual water exportation has arisen. With the exportation of cut-flowers, the water the plants stored up is exported too. Such exportation has affected large water bodies such as Lake Naivasha in Kenya. Half of the lake’s water has been used solely to water the surrounding water farms.

The excessive use of water from these naturally occurring lakes, is causing an ecological shift as the climate changes. Wildlife in these areas has been affected while the surrounding communities continue to lack proper household water for use.

Natural Cover Clearing

Due to the high demand and the billion dollar flower industry. More companies and countries are clearing millions of acres of arable land to make room for flower farms. Also more players are getting into the industry as they want to diversify their income. For instance, China, one of the largest economies in Asia , has set its sights into the floriculture industry .

China projects to become of the largest flower exporters sarpursing the current leaders in global exporters of flowers. This will mean more water , chemicals and land will be used to farm these precious flowers.

The demand for flowers is expected to rise as people are continually spending big money to make their special days more vibrant. However, we ask ourselves when will this stop. Soon the roses and violets may not be red and blue anymore.