Despite the economic woes that continue to affect the UK, interest in environmentally friendly and socially kind flowers continues to grow, with florists reporting strong demand for flowers with a ‘friendly’ history. The good news for consumers is that there’s no shortage of flowers labelled with badges such as Fairtrade, Florverde or FFP, but what does it all mean for you next time you’re placing your order for a flower delivery?
The labels explained.
Put simply, Fairtrade is a system that adds a premium to the purchase price, which is then passed directly into a workers fund. Both Colombia and Kenya have Yankee candle bouquet Fairtrade flower farms and it has to be said, it’s a wonderful system that has made a big difference to the lives of workers on flower farms.
The flowers must meet international fair-trade standards which are set by the international certification body Fairtrade Labelling Organisations International. These standards are agreed through a process of research and consultation with key participants in the Fairtrade scheme, including producers themselves, traders, Workers’ unions, academic institutions and labelling organisations such as the Fairtrade Foundation.
Fairtrade flowers include Roses, Carnations, Lisianthus, Lilies and Sunflowers.
However, due to the costs and regulation involved and the relatively small quantity of flowers left after the major supermarkets have taken their supply, seldom will you find Fairtrade flowers in an independent florist shop. It’s even less likely you’ll find them when placing an order for delivery by a retail florist. That’s why other labels are so popular amongst florists.
Perhaps the most common is MPS, the Dutch floriculture environmental programme, which it’s probably fair to say has done more to improve the environmental and social friendliness of flowers over the years than any other initiative.
MPS is a fully international certificate (unlike others which only concentrate on the Developing World), promoting best practice in four key areas, namely: environment, retail, quality and social. Particiapting growers minimise the damage of their production on nature, investing in complex groundwater heating systems for example, whilst ensuring the health and safety and terms of employment for staff is top notch.
MPS’s key aims are to:
• Reduce energy consumption
• Reduce chemical crop protection
• Increase biological and integrated protection
• Reduce the use of artificial nutrition
• Reduce landfill
• Make better, more responsible use of water
• Encourage the use of biodegradable or recyclable packaging materials
No premium is charged for MPS labelled flowers and most florists should be able to tell you if their flowers are MPS accredited as it will be printed on the sleeve the flowers arrived in.
The next label to talk about is Fair Flowers Fair Plants (FFP), who, like MPS, fulfil strict environmental and social requirements and work across the globe.
Growers signed up to the scheme have to be certified in order to prove that they meet the criteria. Certification includes regular reports by the company and inspections of the company: scheduled and non-scheduled visits in which the company has to co-operate.
It has been established to stimulate the production and trade of flowers and plants cultivated in a sustainable manner: flowers and plants are cultivated in a way that respects people and the environment. Florists selling and delivering floral gifts will usually display a window vinyl or a logo on their website if they subscribe to this scheme. Once again, no premium is charged for FFP labelled flowers.
Florverde meanwhile is a label that applies to Colombian flower producers only, ensuring compliance with strict international social and environmental standards from planting to post harvest is met.
This initiative began in 1996 to develop best practices that could help ensure the quality of life of workers and their families, as well as environmental sustainability for generations to come. It was created as a strategic initiative for promoting sustainable floriculture with social responsibility at both the company and industry-wide levels.