Tuesday, April 18, 2017


Silk Flowers are the way to go when it comes to being beautiful and environmentally friendly. I have been to a few weddings in my life and when I see the flowers that are used to decorate the events I see a lot of money being spent for a program that will only last a few hours, and that is probably a good thing because if the flowers had to last for several days, real flowers would begin to lose their luster before the event ended. I'm not saying you should not decorate with cut flowers, but you should consider silk flowers due to the environmental impact of fresh cut flowers. Since most cut flowers used in the flower industry have to be grown in warmer climates the vast majority of them come from South American farms in places like Ecuador and Columbia.
         Every year Americans spend nearly 20 Billion dollars on fresh flowers and about 70% come from these farms, nearly 771.4 tons or 1,542,800,000 pounds.  The flower industry is huge and flowers are one of the most popular gifts of all time. It is a shame that they have to die and then wilt so quickly once they have been cut, sure there are things you can do to preserve their beauty but it soon fades anyway because the life of the plant has been taken away as soon as it is cut to be processed and sold. So take lots of pictures quickly, because the beauty is fading.
         The best reasons to not use real flowers are they will end up in a landfill that will not really compost them and biodegrade efficiently due to the compacting process that happens in today's landfills, the end result, Methane gas is created by the rotting flowers which adds to the massive amounts of pollution caused by this process. The impact doesn't stop there, if you look at the entire process of the farming, planting, growing, transportation, refrigeration, the insecticides and pesticides used and the harm they cause to the people working in these farms where families have been afflicted with illness as a result of the lack of regulations in working conditions and disregard for the workers safety or well being. Some of the manufacturers are making changes to their processes and attempting to recognize the problems related to the workers health and the well being of their children but only a small percentage of the total industry are able to comply with the needed changes and the old practices are still used by many so the problems continue.
          These illnesses are disturbing and unfortunately the people working in these conditions have little chance to understand the risks and continue to work in these types of jobs because they need to be able to support their families. They don't have any better paying options, their lives are affected more than by just having a job, they are exposed to substances that are banned in the US for good reason, and as a result these workers and their families are harmed in ways that are difficult for them to understand and escape their grasp. For the affected individuals tasks like putting a simple jigsaw puzzle together are more difficult, and their lack of effective training in handling these products and their habits of cleaning their work clothes separately from the rest of the laundry are allowing for the contamination to spread among the households as well as the workplace.
Typical reactions to this exposure are listed in the link below.

Occupational Health: An Ugly Picture for Flower Workers and Their Children

The study of female workers in Ecuador’s flower industry and their children found that a mother’s work exposure to pesticides during pregnancy was associated with neurological impairment, including a significant decrease in visuospatial performance. After accounting for other factors such as malnutrition, the researchers concluded that “prenatal pesticide exposure may adversely affect brain development.”
The authors, led by Philippe Grandjean, an adjunct professor at the Harvard School of Public Health, also found that children whose mothers were exposed during pregnancy tended to have higher blood pressure than unexposed children, a finding with broader implications. “Increased blood pressure, when present in childhood, is a risk factor for cardiovascular disease in later life,” the researchers noted.
The researchers looked at schoolchildren under the age of 10 in the Andean community of Tabacundo. Physical exams checked each child’s blood pressure and certain neurobehavioral functions, such as motor coordination, dexterity, attention, short-term memory, balance, and spatial perception and performance. Mothers were interviewed about their own exposure history and background as well as their children’s medical history and health. The data analysis took into account each family’s housing and nutritional situation, as well as maternal education. The researchers also measured current pesticide exposure among the children. Of  72 children included in the analysis, 37 were considered to have been exposed prenatally—they were born to women who had worked in the floriculture industry while pregnant. All of these mothers reported following normal safety precautions, and none had worked as pesticide applicators. Nineteen of the exposed children’s fathers and 16 of the unexposed children’s fathers also had worked in floriculture during the pregnancy, while most other fathers worked in construction trades.
Prenatal exposure was associated with significantly higher systolic blood pressure and substantial deficits on spatial performance. In this regard, the researchers concluded that pesticide toxicity may add to the adverse influence of malnutrition. Also, the effects of prenatal pesticide exposure seemed to last longer than those known to be associated with pesticide exposures in adults. END.
Valentine's Day has a history in the floral industry as being one of the biggest holidays for the use of flowers, especially Roses, and although there are roses grown in southern California there are not always enough available to provide roses to fill all of the orders. Holidays or times of the year like Mother's day, and Christmas, when demand is high for certain flowers that will not grow locally due to climate limitations require the sellers to alternatively offer imported cut flowers to handle the increase in orders during these times.
There are all sorts of improvements that are taking place in this industry but the question still remains are silk flowers a better answer?
 Well the answer is YES, Silk Flowers are better!
Silk flowers are an environmentally friendly option and it is believed that they offer the same psychological benefits at home or office and commercial settings like shopping malls. The use of Silk Flowers makes good sense, they are nearly maintenance free, last for an indefinite number of years, but usually remain attractive for about 7 years , the freight for Silk Flowers  is dramatically low since they have a very long shelf life, and the packaging can be recycled, no refrigeration, and no air travel is required, in most cases they are shipped by rail or sea, then trains and trucks. The Carbon Footprint (cut flowers are anything but green!) is dramatically lower than Fresh Cut Flowers in view of the required air transportation, refrigerated trucking, and climate controlled storage until sold. The Carbon Footprint for the medical issues that the workers live with has not even been considered yet. Other concerns about fresh cut flowers or live plants are health related side effects due to insects, allergens, fertilizers and insecticides, mold and mildew from wet potted plants. The chemical run off that pollutes creeks and streams and affects the workers and the wildlife in the growing farms and surrounding areas. Take into consideration that one small blemish on a few of the leaves of a long stem rose makes it worthless to the sellers of these flowers and the pesticides used to prevent those blemishes is killing fish, and other aquatic animals, birds and bees, and the list goes on, please consider Silk Flowers and Silk Plants whenever you can as a safe alternative that is GREEN.
When you really stop and think about it a little you will be able to see the benefits of Silk Plants and Flowers and how many people are affected by this silent generator of this tremendous Carbon Footprint and the pollution that goes along with it. 
Best Regards

Reproduced with permission from Environmental Health Perspectives: