Roses for your Valentine may not be ecofriendly

Scientific American’s “60-Second Earth” podcast focused this week on the environmental risks associated with the roses of Valentines Day.

According to the SA commentator, “growing roses has an environmental impact worse than many other crops”. The environmental impacts are said to include carbon dioxide emissions from flying the roses from places where they can be grown in February, water to grow the bushes, pesticide use, habitat destruction, and refrigeration to keep the flowers fresh during transportation and merchandising.

GallonDaily does not dispute that production of roses has an environmental impact but we cannot find evidence to show that the impact is worse than many other crops. In fact, a 2009 Scientific American article, to which a link is provided from the text version of this week’s podcast, suggests that imported roses that are grown out of doors may have a lower overall environment than those grown closer to home in greenhouses.

GallonDaily’s guess is that roses, especially those that are sustainably grown, and there are some available with such a certification, have a lower environmental impact than boxes of chocolates or most jewellery items. Even so, we encourage beaus to consider the environment when purchasing Valentine’s Day gifts. As we have said before in our Gallon Environment Letter review of greener Christmas gifts, items such as theatre or sports tickets or a meal at a restaurant that specializes in local food and wine may be more environment friendly, and hence we hope more appreciated by the recipient, than roses from a distant land.

Still, the Scientific American author’s commentary is a useful contribution to the discussion and can be found at http://www.scientificamerican.com/podcast/episode.cfm?id=roses-raise-environment-concerns-13-02-10

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