By Lucia Kľučárová, Slovakia
Roses are readily available throughout the year, and a bunch of roses is a common gift for various occasions. We can buy them not only in flower shop but also in supermarkets or gas stations. How many of us actually think about where they come from and what environmental impact they have?
All the roses we buy in flower shops in Slovakia are imported. Before the cut roses reach the recipient, they must travel in a refrigerated environment by plane across continents. Their carbon footprint is very large, comparable to a flight from London to Paris (1).
According to Petra Baranová from the EcoHero portal, Kenya is the largest producer in the rose trade. More than 70% of the roses sold in Europe come from there (2). For this country, the cultivation and export of roses is an important economic sector that employs many of its inhabitants. There is a water shortage in Kenya. Nevertheless, roses are grown around Lake Naivasha. Their cultivation is destroying the ecosystem of this lake.
In Ecuador, roses are grown in the foothills of the Andes, in the Pichincha and Cotopaxi regions (3). Since they have ideal climatic conditions there for growing year round, they are not as energy-intensive as roses grown in the Netherlands. On the other hand, a big environmental problem caused by growing roses in Ecuador is the lack of water for growing common crops. There is also a loss of biodiversity caused by using the land to grow roses
FLOWER CAPITAL OF THE WORLD
The Dutch city of Aalsmeer is the centre of the cut flower trade, including roses. This flower exchange offers roses from growers in Africa (Kenya, Zimbabwe) and Latin America (Colombia, Ecuador). Even the largest cut flower wholesaler in Slovakia, Storge, buys roses online at the Dutch flower exchange or directly from growers in Ecuador. In order to preserve freshness and quality, the flowers are stored in a temperature-controlled refrigerator. Flower shop owners can buy roses at the warehouse.
Florists can be found in every village, but their selection does not differ much. “I buy roses at Ewalds warehouse in Galanta. Their roses are brought in from Holland,” said Petra Masníková, owner of Kvety z Dedina flower shop in Majcichov. Petra told Young Reporters that she would prefer to buy from Slovak growers, but this is not possible as there are no rose growers for resale in Slovakia.
In Slovak supermarkets, it is sometimes possible to buy roses marked with Fairtrade certification. Growing Fairtrade roses gives people from African and Latin American countries a chance for a decent living. As a result, their children do not have to work, and cultivation may even be environmentally friendly.
The best option is to go local. The number of flower farms in Slovakia is increasing. They try to reach people who are close to nature with their selection. “Compared to classic florists, we focus on growing flowers that are local, seasonal, and ecological. Outside the growing season, we make bouquets from dried flowers and evergreen bouquets,” said Daniela Mošková from the Černuška flower shop in the White Carpathians.
Buying a bouquet from this flower grower helps minimize our burden on the planet. In Černuška, they refuse to use chemical fertilizers and pesticides. “We fertilize with horse manure and weed by hand. Sometimes it’s difficult, but we wouldn’t do it any other way,” added Daniela Mošková. Also near Trnava is a natural flower shop called Rovina Flower Garden. As owner Ľubica Vašková explained, they have something to offer customers all year round. “In winter, we use our dried flowers and grasses, from which we tie bouquets, and create arrangements and wreaths.”
To avoid gifting kilograms of carbon dioxide, you can donate local and seasonal flowers. In this way, you will not only support the Slovak economy and small businesses but, at the same time, also help the environment.
1) Financial Review https://www.afr.com/policy/energy-and-climate/a-bunch-of-roses-costs-as-much-co2-as-a-london-paris-flight-20230219-p5clor
2) Eco Hero online magazine https://ecoheromagazine.com/kym-kupite-zenam-k-mdz-kyticu-kvetov/?fbclid=IwAR2B635x-FAAt7XarvPF3JcALyOqV2SguexMKSkRS5rZnSfpwph8GYbRjG8
3) Alarm – independent online media supported by readers https://a2larm.cz/2021/12/konflikty-o-vodu-a-nedustojna-prace-odvracena-strana-valentynskych-ruzi-z-ekvadoru/
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