When you make any purchasing decisions, what is most important to you?
Some people like to know where a product is grown, how it was sourced…and with that I guess comes a domino affect of how the workers may have been treated and what conditions they work under. An article posted on Telesur details shocking working conditions where workers clock some 84 hours a week through busy periods, in flower factories near Bogata, Columbia.
The Project for International Accompaniment and Solidarity (PASO) visited the townships where the flowers were grown and conditioned, interviewing workers. Findings included union busting, sexual harassment of female workers and work related disabilities.
“Today, a flower is not produced with sweetness but with tears. Our product is used to express beautiful feelings throughout the world, but we are treated very poorly,” a flower sector employee from Facatativa said as quoted in the report.
With so many of flowers now imported and sourced from areas outside of Australia, it is understandable that we often do not have the whole picture. But, the reason so many of the imported products have become so widely and readily available is the demand. And the demand has been increased by the low cost of the product.
In an ideal world, it would be lovely to know that all our products were grown locally, by small businesses, and that by supporting a local business you were supporting several families. But I know that the reality is that every household has a budget, and people are making buying decisions based on their budget (as well as a whole host of other factors).
In many areas of our lives, people are beginning to be more conscious with their purchasing decisions. They are choosing to spend more, perhaps less frequently on quality products made or sourced ethically. What that means though is that often they choose NOT to purchase from brands renowned for poor working conditions.
It has also become more popular to source local foods, and patronise growers markets. Part of this is understanding seasonal produce, and buying what is best at a particular time of year. Part of this is ensuring we are eating fresh food from local suppliers. Why are we buying asparagus from Peru? I mean, how old is that ‘fresh’ asparagus by the time we eat it?
In that way, understanding what flowers are available naturally at a particular time of year, will help you determine what is local and what is imported. Imported stock can be substantially cheaper than locally grown items, and many imported varieties of flowers are now, no longer grown in Australia 🙁
If we are to reduce our carbon footprint, we need to adopt the same standards we hold to other purchases, to flowers. If we pay a little bit more (due to higher wages in Australia) we can ensure that the money is kept in our economy. We can also ensure a higher level of commercial standards, and safe practise. We can also be sure of the freshness of the produce we are buying. To me this is one of the most important factors when considering flower purchases. Let’s face it, flowers are a perishable item, so many consider them to be a luxury. What is more disappointing than buying flowers that are not fresh and do not last. But the reality is when you buy imported products, there is really no way to know, how long ago they were cut, packed, transported and then slowly made their way from the tarmac, and into customs, before being released.
My vote is for local. And my belief is that our purchases determine our future. If we continue to support imported stock, local growers in operation will continue to decline and our industry will suffer. By buying seasonal, local produce, your blooms will be more beautiful and last longer….why would you consider anything else? 😉