This Mother’s Day, Say It with Plastic?


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Every year we spend billions of dollars trying to find a way to thank our mothers for labor pains and unconditional love, but it turns out our primary display of affection may be hurting the greatest mother of them all.

Talking about Mother Nature, of course. She provides the flowers we purchase for our own mothers every year. But the lion’s share of those roses, dahlias and irises, according to the radio program Freakonomics, were actually grown outside the United States. The major producers of flowers are countries with long sunny days, such as Columbia, Ecuador and Costa Rica.

According to the program, the flowers “must be refrigerated immediately after they’re cut; most are flown to the Miami International Airport, which handles about 187,000 tons of flowers a year, and then trucked to their destination.”

That’s a lot of energy to move a lot of product that will be, in one week, dead. Which begs the question of those who are increasingly dedicated to decreasing their carbon footprint: If you are so busy counting your food miles, shouldn’t you also be reducing your floral footprint?

According to the Society of American Florists, the top domestic grower of flowers is California, at 75 percent. You skip the international flight, but it’s still a considerable transport distance.

The host on Freakonomics suggests we send artificial flowers to our moms instead of live flowers. The argument is that they are lighter, last longer and can be recycled (regifted). This all may be true, but I suspect plastic posies would go over like a lead balloon.

Instead, I’ll opt for the unconditional gift card this year. It may not be pretty, but the resulting guilt will definitely give my wallet labor pains.

Lisa Biank Fasig
Lisa leads the creation of editorials and feature stories for COLLOQUY and oversees the work of contributing editors and writers. With 18 years of reporting experience, most in business and specifically consumer behavior, she is highly skilled at researching data and teasing out the trends. A background in graphic design enables her to see ideas in three dimensions and tell the story visually.


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