23 Apr What’s behind the flowers?
By now we know well that the flowers you buy are not ecological. You will be asking yourself questions, saying, “For once I get married or buy flowers, the world will not go to hell.” I’m sure that after you read what I am about to explain, you will change your mind.
The production of flowers
You know that flowers don’t live long and to get to florist shops, they need to travel because they don’t come from local sources. According to an article by Ecobnb 80% of the flowers we see displayed in florist shops come from South America, Ecuador and to a lesser extent Holland.
You too will understand that in order to make such a long journey go, many resources such as water are used to make them survive. They are also given mixes of chemicals based on fungicides, insecticides and herbicides to keep them fresh.
According to research of the International Labor Rights Forum in 2007, 20% of these substances are very harmful, so much so that in Europe and the USA their use is very limited. Substances that are emitted by the workers who are inside the cultivation fields.
The Tras las Flores campaign
Countryside Tras las Flores (Behind the Flowers) born between Colombia and Spain tries to explain what’s behind the flower trade. Particularly on days when traditional festivals are celebrated by sprinkling the streets with flowers. One of the festivities around which the Sant Jordi campaign in Catalonia developed. According to the Mercat de les Flors, around 7 million roses were consumed during this festival in 2018. Colombia exported 71%, Holland 15% and Ecuador 9%, while only 5% was produced locally.
Flowers have a symbolic value which has been socially and historically constructed in relation to the aesthetics of the beautiful and the fragile. It also embellishes what it loves, what it gives, accompanies the dead. This symbolic charge has been used by large companies that today promote mass consumption. This consumption increases in traditional festivals, such as Sant Jordi, cataloged as the most romantic day of the year in Catalonia, and in other festivals created by the global capitalist market, such as Valentine’s Day. This market has therefore made cut flowers a product that in itself has a reduced usage time, a symbol of exploitation.
Behind the flower production
During those days when the streets are flooded with colorful flowers, the women of the south who support the business lose their dreams, their health and their families. Labor exploitation is up to 16 hours with exposure to agro-toxic chemicals and pesticides, harmful body postures and repetitive movements that seriously affect health. In addition, female workers suffer a great deal of work stress, compared to standards. It causes large-scale production, derived from the transnational market that favors the accumulation of capital over labor, environmental and social rights .
Environmental impact of flowers
This mode of production also affects the entire natural and social environment. The monoculture of flowers destroys biodiversity, endangering food sovereignty, poisoning the land and water with the massive use of pesticides. The flower companies have privatized the water without any restrictions and export it accumulated in the flower stalks.
This is what for years movements, social organizations and trade unions of the producing countries have defined as extractivism of the earth and of the bodies that finds in the flower trade a material and symbolic condensation, around the production “A lifeless nature, flowers”.
The manifesto concludes by inviting consumers to reflect on what it means to decide whether or not to purchase a product with a history of exploitation. For those who support this activity, they ask common sense in the face of the serious global ecological crisis, since it is not consistent to continue with a market that intensifies the socio-environmental disaster.
Alternatives to flowers can be used
You can use alternative arrangements for your holidays, giving space to collective creativity, to local culture. Producing a real meeting between peoples, becoming aware of how the things that are consumed are produced.
You are now partially aware of what is behind the production of the flowers. That beauty you see so much in one bouquet , brings with it a devastating production chain. Think differently, trying to understand that behind what you believe to be beauty, there is only exploitation for life in all its forms.
Credit photo: dinamopress.it
Credit photo: www.francescorussotto.it