Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Socially responsible sweethearts

It's that time of year again. Young one's hearts, and the hearts of all who are young at heart, turn to love. Mindful that tomorrow's Valentine's Day we prepare, many of us, to "say it with flowers": Lilacs to our 1st love. Magnolias to the nature-lover. Violets for faithfulness. Forget-me-nots for, well, you can guess.
But what do we really say when we use flowers to talk about love?
To the true nature-lover, some flowers convey a message of woe, of megafarms in Colombia and Ecuador where, Nora Ferm (left) of the International Labor Rights Forum said in this New York Times article, "workers ... can suffer pesticide-related illnesses like headaches, rashes and birth abnormalities among their children."
The Forum's just one of the groups pushing now for fair trade in flowers; another's the Natural Resources Defense Council. They're working for development of labels to alert consumers that the bouquet they bestow on their beloved was grown in a way that minimizes harm to workers and the environment in which they live and work.
And so when buying flowers no less than other sweet somethings on which we've posted -- chocolate and jewelry -- look for a fairness label. Think too about buying your flowers locally, an option urged by Amy Stewart (right), author of “Flower Confidential: The Good, the Bad and the Beautiful in the Business of Flowers” (2007).
Another Valentine's option perhaps goes without saying: getting off the consumption wheel altogether and simply enjoying one another's company.

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