• Vishanka Gandhi

The sweet roses leave a rather foul trail of unsustainability behind. It is time to rethink flowers as valentine’s day gifts. During the Victorian Age, the day’s association with flowers as gifts was sealed. It was considered rude then, even a taboo, to approach a lady and openly confess one's feelings for her. So, almost organically, the language of flowers came to the rescue of lovers - floriography. Similar in concept to emojis in text messages, the different colours of the flowers stood for different emotions, allowing men and women to enjoy delicate, scented flirtations. In a time when naturally grown flowers from the local nurseries were bought and delivered in-person with love, flowers indeed made for a very special symbolism for the day of St. Valentine. That was then. Valentine’s day roses are no longer realistic gifts in the midst of the climate crisis. Today, in the age of mass-production, the convenience of online shopping and the speed of prime delivery, the colourful story of sweet-smelling flowers for Valentine’s day is tainted with grey hues and the foul smell of toxic gas from environmentally unsustainable production systems and supply chains. As the United States alone spent a massive 2.3 billion U.S. dollars on Valentine’s flowers in 2020, approximately 80% of their flowers were flown from countries in South America. While labour costs are much lower in Columbia and Ecuador, 30 cargo flights filled with Valentine’s roses are flown every single day for 3 weeks before the special day, burning approximately 114 million litres of fuel, and emitting around 360,000 metric tons of harmful carbon dioxide. When in the country, hauled in temperature-controlled containers, the trucks burn 25 percent more fuel than they do for non-refrigerated cargo, in addition to all the airplane fuel! This is massively detrimental to our ecological crisis for a gift that promiscuously changes its home from cold storage, to a lover’s heart and finally, a waste bin just 2 days after being purchased. Read on at -