Fitting green choices into my everyday life has been more of a challenge this year because I'm planning a wedding. My groom-to-be and I really want our wedding day to represent our socially conscious values, from the post-consumer paper for our invitations to the eco caterer we've chosen for the reception. We didn't know the flowers could be green, too. I had no idea fair-trade and organic options existed, but what I found out really opened my eyes. Not a pretty sight. "Flower cultivation sucks back more pesticides than any other agricultural product," writes Adria Vasil in her book Ecoholic (Vintage Canada, 2007). As if that weren't enough to make a red rose pale with embarrassment, flowers are shipped hundreds of kilometres by emission-blasting trucks and airplanes, and bouquets are wrapped in non-biodegradable cellophane. Not a girl's best friend. Canadians import $59,628,920 worth of blooms every year from Colombia alone. According to a study by the Colombian National Institute of Health, pregnant flower workers have been found to have increased risks of birth defects, premature births and miscarriages. "This is particularly troublesome," writes Vasil, "knowing that 70 per cent of Columbia's flower workers are women – women who are paid about 58 cents a day." Green is good. Here's how I'm working green into my wedding-day palette. • Buy local. Just like the menu for the reception, we've decided to highlight flowers that are indigenous to our region and support local growers who use sustainable practices. • Opt for fair-trade and organic options. Sierra Flower Trader is the largest distributor of fresh-cut flowers in eastern Canada. They created a label called Sierra Eco. Flowers that carry the Sierra Eco label are produced using far less pesticides and higher labour standards for workers. The site features a directory of florists in eastern Canada who carry the Sierra Eco label. • Be natural. "Be aware of the specific tools to make your arrangements, such as non-recyclable floral tape and green foam," writes Emily Elizabeth Anderson in Eco-Chic Weddings (Hatherleigh, 2007). The flowers in the centrepieces at my wedding will be displayed in reusable vases, and the bouquets will be tied with organic cotton ribbon. And I'm going to do my best to use certified organic flowers, so they won't introduce toxic elements into the environment when they're added to compost after the big day.
Have you ever bought eco-friendly or organic flowers?Today's code word: flowers Read more: • Why organic roses? • 10 things to talk about before you get married • T he language of flowers: Different flowers' meanings