Who doesn’t love getting a gorgeous bouquet of flowers on Valentine’s Day? They are not only beautiful to look at, but they remind us of how special we are to someone. Along with a lot of chocolates and other delicious sweets, they make us feel like a million bucks.
I was recently reading how Valentine’s Day is practically one of the most important days for the floral industry, something akin to almost a national holiday. Even during the pandemic, the floral blooming keeps on booming, and among the approximately $25 billion that is spent on Valentine’s Day gifts, almost 37% of that figure is on flowers. It appears that almost 13,000 tons of flowers grown in Columbia and Ecuador will reach destinations in the US, Australia, and Europe, a 45% increase over 2021.
But of all the millions of flower arrangements that inundate florists and grocery stores for Valentine’s Day, not all of them end up in someone’s loving hands. So, what happens to the all the bouquets and bunches that don’t get sold?
Fortunately, for starters, there are dozens of charities in the US that accept unsold bouquets from florists and grocery stores, repurpose them and donate them again. For example, take Random Acts of Flowers, a nonprofit organization that donates bouquets to patients in hospice or assisted living care facilities. The charity has three branches in the South and Midwest, which each receiving around 5,000 to 6,000 bouquets of flowers every month. The post-Valentine’s Day donations usually double their normal monthly donation flower receipts.
Then there is Bewilder Floral, a sustainable florist and floral program in California, which accepts used flowers to teach students how to design artistic bouquets. And local horticultural societies may sometimes accept used flowers to cut, dry and preserve them, usually by pressing them between pages of large books.
The reality is that for the most part, wilting bouquets end up in our garbage that are dumped in landfills. Seeds that fall from these flowers likely don’t grow in the trash since light is obscured and any soil is probably toxic.
Although flowers that decay in a landfill do contribute to greenhouse gases, those that can be composted are another story. Decaying flowers that can be worked into large areas of soil will greatly improve its quality, and moreover, yield new flowers that can be once again end up as a beautiful reflection of being someone’s very special Valentine.
Happy Valentine’s Day
Nancy Seiverd, President, CMI Credit Mediators, Inc.