Fair trade may be just about the last thing on your mind when it comes to that beautiful bouquet you receive on Valentine’s Day. How about child labor, sexual harassment, forced pregnancy testing or overwhelming health concerns? Valentine’s Day should be about love. In certain areas of the world, it’s about exploitation and practices that are far from fair trade approved. Someone may be paying a high price for your Valentine’s Day flowers.
Child labor in the floral industry.
Some flower plantations have eliminated child labor. Sadly, many remain. Using child labor to grow and harvest billions of Valentine’s Day flowers makes those of us who receive them think again about how beautiful they are. Health concerns of floral workers in regards to pesticides and other issues multiply for children. The younger they are, the more dangerous exposure can be.
Pesticide induced health concerns in the floral industry.
We’re not talking about a little itchy rash here and there. The overuse of extremely toxic pesticides is severely effecting the workers who produce your Valentine’s Day flowers. We’re talking about respiratory illnesses, loss of sight and miscarriages to name a few. Most people see flowers as a green gift. Not where these practices are in place.
Forced pregnancy testing in the floral industry.
This may not sound like such a big deal until you think about it. Would your employer force you to get a pregnancy test before hiring you? Of course not. Yet, this is common practice with some flower growers. Why? They don’t want to pay extra for health insurance. Honey, please be careful where you buy my Valentine’s Day flowers.
Sexual abuse and harassment in the floral industry.
Child labor, health issues and forced pregnancy testing are just the tip of the iceberg.
According to the International Labor Rights Forum,
“A 2005 study by ILRF and Ecuadorian NGO partners found that over 55% of Ecuadorian flower workers have been the victims of sexual harassment and 19% of flower workers had been forced to have sex with a coworker or or superior.”
Where can I get green, cruelty free flowers for Valentine’s Day?
Luckily, you don’t have to support these atrocities. You can buy fair trade flowers and encourage friends to do the same. Just look for the FTC (fair trade certified) or “Florverde” label when purchasing flowers for Valentine’s Day or other occasions.
International Labor Rights Forum
One World Flowers
Portions of this article were previously published by this author on a now closed Yahoo property.