Valentine’s Day approaches once again, order and where is the love? Is the love in Clinton Cards? Is the love in all those ‘must have’ Valentine’s gifts the glossy magazines are trying to suggest we need? Is the love in flowers that have been flown thousands of miles, check produced by underpaid workers with health problems because of all the chemicals used in their production? Hmmm, perhaps not…
Illustration: In a Dream, by Katy Gromball
There’s no denying cut flowers are beautiful. I’ve never been a flowers girl myself, but I do see the appeal. Flowers should be beautiful, natural, simple gifts that allow us to enjoy a beautiful bit of the outdoors indoors. Yet most of the flowers that we buy in this country have a past that is neither innocent nor desirable. It’s ironic that the pretty things we use to express our affection for loved ones can in fact be severely detrimental to the health and well-being of the people and environments that produce them. It is therefore high time ethical flowers became the norm and not the slightly more expensive niche option.
Illustration: Lovely Place, by Katy Gromball
Flowers can either be grown in greenhouses, where maintaining the right temperature and conditions needs a lot of energy, or produced in countries with a naturally hotter climate. The vast majority of flowers we buy in this country are imported from Colombia, Kenya or Holland.
I remember studying the colonial history of France and Algeria at university. The French colons made Algeria, where the Muslim population originally didn’t drink alcohol, into an important exporter of wine. So while the natives didn’t have enough bread to eat because their land had been taken over by the French, the French were happily drinking wine with their cheese. Perhaps the flowers situation can’t be compared. But flowers take up enormous swathes of land that could otherwise be used for food production. The fact that they are grown as a monoculture crop means they severely deplete soil and biodiversity.
Illustration: Lovers, by Katy Gromball
Moreover, flower production requires huge amounts of water. Clean drinking water is an increasingly scarce global commodity. Coupled with the extremely high use of pesticides, fungicides and herbicides in flower production, and the toxicity released into rivers because of this, there is clearly a huge problem. Pesticides directly affect the health of the workers who are in contact with them, whether in greenhouses or outdoors. Are cheap flowers worth all this?
So what are the alternatives? Where possible, it really is best to buy UK grown flowers. The UK Oranic flower season is from about March to October, but most companies will do Valentine’s as well by using fairtrade flowers. Below are a few ideas for online suppliers, but it’s probably best to research your own local area and find out which florists supply UK grown or fairtrade flowers. If you know any good florists or suppliers in your area, please post links to them or give details in the comments section they’ll be useful all year round!
Illustration: Hurrah, by Katy Gromball
Bella and Fifi, Bristol-based ethical florist.
Park Flowers, some Soil Association Organic certified.
Eco Flowers Delivered– “I love you and the Earth too”. Delivered same or next day.
Bath Organic Blooms, Seasonal, organically-produced flowers from Somerset, delivered UK-wide. Not for Valentine’s though as the season starts in March.
Visit illustrator Katy Gromball’s shop , for a truly beautiful and unique print to go with (or instead of) flowers.
Valentine’s Day is a strange time of year. The cynic in me can’t help but think that it’s a holiday which has been created so that florists, information pills card companies and jewellers can make money hand over fist as people are guilt tripped into buying something for their loved one. I have always thought that if you really cared about someone then you can show them how you feel at all times of the year rather than on one specific day.
However it can also be a wonderful day where people remember what it is about their partner which caused them to fall in love with them in the first place. You may already tell your partner you love them every day, pilule or pick up flowers for them on a regular basis but Valentine’s Day give you an excuse to both indulge one another.
However it doesn’t have to be a day where you indulge in material excess. You can’t place a price on love and even if you just spend a pleasant day or evening together it can be something that you’ll remember for years to come.
You don’t even have to celebrate on your own. There are a multitude of nights going on in London the night before Valentine’s Day (as it falls on Sunday this year) where you and your partner can revel with other couples, and single people looking to find love.
Starting things early on Thursday is the Smash N Grab Valentine’s Day Pash Off which is for those of you who are yet to find that special someone. You may not find them here but you might find someone to take your mind off things for a while.
White Weddings Valentine’s Day Massacre is for anyone who wants to indulge in a little nostalgia. Perhaps you fell in love during the 80’s and want to go back to a more innocent time, or are just looking for a bit of retro fun.
Yes Yes Yes are offering the chance to indulge your saucy side and dress up as a burlesque dancer, fetishist or just put on your Sunday best and join them for an evening of Ambient Acts, Vintage Erotica and DJ’s. They have also been kind enough to give us three pairs of tickets to give away. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and answer this simple question, what date is Valentine’s Day? The first three correct answers will win tickets.
- Valentine’s Day
- Valentine’s Day 2012: Things To Do
- Valentines Day – What’s it all about anyway?
- Flowers – Where’s The Love?
- Fashion Fun this Weekend…