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The NBV (Netwerk Bewust Verbruiken or Network for Concerned Consumption), the FIAN (Foodfirst Information & Action Network), Velt (Ecologisch Leven en Tuinieren or Association for Living and Gardening Ecological) and Max Havelaar (Fairtrade quality mark) has launched in Flanders (Belgium) the Happy Flowers campaign. They want to show that the cultivation of flowers is an energy intensive business. A bouquet of roses has an ecological footprint of 20 m2 which is the same as driving a car for 20 km. On top of that a lot of fertilizers and herbicides are used. Even cultivating the flowers in e.g. Kenia and transporting them to e.g. Belgium will have a lower footprint. These associations ask not to boycott flowers since the life and working conditions developing countries are at stake.  Therefore they ask  to choose for Happy Flowers and give some tips:


  • buy flowers which last longer. Perfect examples are amaryllis, chrysant and the flamingo flower. Narcissus, iris and tulips don’t last that long

  • flowering plants or bulbs in a pot are a perfect alternative

  • one or a couple of flowers can be as nice as a huge  bouquet

  • go for Happy Flowers. These are:

The latter is not available in Belgium. We have the Dutch Milieu Programma Sierteelt (MPS) (Environmental Program Ornamental Plant Cultivation) and the Flemish Vlaams Milieuplan Sierteelt (VMS) (Flemish Environmental Plan Ornamental Plant Cultivation). These are business-to-business labels (thus not visible for end users), which aim to reduce the impact on the environment. The growers need to register their use of herbicides, fertilizers, amount of waste en energy consumption monthly. Depending on these figures, they receiver an MPS-C, -B or –A (best) label.  I’ve seen a MPS-A grower which uses organic/natural herbicides, recuperates the heath and stores it for later use. He also filters the exhaust fumes and uses the result CO2 as fertilizer for his roses. Pity that the consumer can’t see this label in order to make the right choice.

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  1. Marilyn Pratt
    This was my morning’s read about the V-day habit of gold-giving : “The symbol of your enduring love should not have to come at the expense of clean drinking water or respect for human rights. It’s also just good business.”

  2. Former Member
    How do they measure the footprint for a bouquet? (A bouquet can have different flowers, different nos…)

    These organizations are ‘concerned’ about Kenyan growers. Certainly they would have made efforts to provide ‘fair label’ to these producers, and not to their funding patron businesses only!

    Forgive me but this thing smells so corporate.

    1. Eddy De Clercq Post author
      Flowers need warmth and are therefore cultivated in heated greenhouses/glasshouses. Heating produces C02. In warmer countries you don’t need that extra heating. If you don’t like fair label for whatever reason, you can choose for the alternatives mentioned in the blog.

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