The toll cut flowers have on the environment is huge and may make you want to rethink your rose petal bath or chemical-laden posey for a loved one. Cut flowers represent a significant environmental problem. Nearly 80% are imported from the Netherlands, Colombia and Kenya, and the impact on water resources, the carbon footprint associated with air freighting flowers and the dependency of local communities on this monoculture are well known.
Since we do not eat flowers, authorities are not interested in checking for pesticides. This ignores the impact on growers, workers and ecosystems: in Colombia 12 different pesticides are used, while Ethiopian producers have been found to be use toxic pesticides banned in industrialized nations. That's especially unfortunate for the unprotected workers (mostly women, sometimes children) who are suffering everything from respiratory distress to higher rates of miscarriage to neurological impairment as a result of exposure.
If you still have your heart set on fresh flowers, you don't have to forgo them. Look for native varieties instead of long haul imports and search out eco florists who avoid using floral foam – a non-biodegradable, petroleum by-product commonly used for arrangements. Support local growers and when a bouquet requires something a little more exotic request ethical sources that import.