Green Valentine: Celebrate love without hurting nature

Wednesday February 12 2020

Effect of Valentine’s Day on demand for flowers

Valentine’s Day increases demand for roses, though there are other flowers available. Photo by Rachel Mabala. 


Valentine’s Day is around the corner. This time of year, the florists are flooded with red roses - long-stemmed, luscious and delicate, each one as perfect as the next. Roses are synonymous with love and passion.
Additionally, other presents wrapped in polythene bags will be making rounds as many people will be struggling to impress their loved ones in one way or another.
Unfortunately, environmentalists say it takes a lot of chemical pollution to have all the roses needed for just one single day.
The cut-flower industry is a short-cycle production process that requires the extensive use of agrochemicals or pesticides which experts say have a negative effect on the air, soil and water supply.
Scientific research explains that the used pesticides secrete into soils and groundwater and that ends up in drinking water. The Sprays also end up drifting and polluting the air.
According to the National Pesticide Information Centre (NPIC), soil can be degraded and the community of organisms living in the soil can be damaged by the misuse or over use of pesticides.
“Some pesticides are more toxic to soil organisms than others. Some pesticides may break down quickly when applied to soils, while others may persist for longer periods. The type of soil and the type of pesticide can also affect pesticide persistence,” partly reads a statement on NPIC website.
NPIC is a collaboration between Oregon State University and the United States Environmental Protection Agency to provide objective, science-based information about pesticides.
While there are rules put in place to stop the use of highly toxic agrochemicals or at the bare minimum reduce exposure, flowers are not edible crops and they are exempt from regulations on pesticide residues.
World statistics also indicate that celebrating love with chocolate, greeting cards, and jewellery often wrapped in polythene bags leaves a wake of environmental destruction that is not so romantic.
According to Hallmark, the largest manufacturer of greeting cards in the United States, at least 141 million of greeting cards are bought ahead of Valentine’s Day.
These greeting cards that lovers require to express their love for just one day require a lot of paper. While there are some greeting card manufacturers using recycled paper for their greeting cards, it's fair to say that recycled paper is not a big focus in the industry.
Samanya R. Kyategeka, Communications Manager, WWF-Uganda a global environmental conservation organization, says other environmentally damaging manufacturing practices are often used to make paper greeting cards, such as toxic printer inks and fixing agents.
“Again, there are some manufacturers that are using less toxic alternatives, but even in the best case, there is still energy being used and some level of pollution generated to produce the pretty paper greeting cards,” Ms Kyategeka says.
Ms Kyategeka adds that while some of you may argue that these greeting cards are special memories that are saved forever, the truth is that most times, there is no space for them in our tables and closets.
“A few days or utmost a month after valentine’s day, your once beautiful card will find itself in dustbins and drainage channels, leading to more pollution,” Ms Kyategeka adds.

The solution isn’t to stop celebrating Valentine’s Day, let green replace the red and let us make it a green valentine, says Ms Kyategeka.
Choosing to go a greener, more earth and environmentally -friendly route makes a statement about your love for each other and the planet you call home and speaks to the sustainability of a couple’s love, environmentalists argue.
As such, environmentalists have given a few pointers to the things that can be done can done this valentine’s day to surprise your loved one while doing good for the planet.
A ported organic plant
According to the sunset website, gifting someone a plant also gives them the gift of clean air. Whether it’s for a baby shower or a mitzvah.
“Some people might be nervous to give a living plant as a gift, but don’t be sure, it might eventually die, but so do bouquets, and we don’t have any qualms about giving people flowers, right?” reads the website.
Every valentine, the demand for red rose’s shots up, as the prices will also go high. “The higher the demand, the higher the prices and the lower the demand lower the prices,” Different florists whom the Daily Monitor interviewed said.
A random survey around Kampala showed the prices range from Shs10, 000 to Shs100, 000 for the plastic potted plants while the ceramic ones are more costly.