There’s a reason flowers have been cultivated, arranged, gifted, and enjoyed by humans for so long. They really have the power to brighten up a space, send a message, or set a mood. I’ve personally always been so impressed by flowers… Nature has made such a variety of vibrant, unique, and universally-appreciated plants!
But just like with most crops, the ‘conventional’ flower industry can be quite harsh on the environment. Finding organic flower bouquets can be somewhat difficult, but you do have options!
Buying locally-grown flowers is one great choice. And although it doesn’t necessarily mean organic, looking for the Rainforest Alliance certification label is a good practice when shopping for flowers from the grocery store or from larger flower companies.
In this article, we’re going to talk about the best places to find organic, eco-friendly, and locally-grown flowers. The next time you want to send a loved one a bouquet or just want to brighten up your home office, consider checking out one of the resources or online flower shops below!
Table of Contents
- Why Buy Organic, Slow, & Locally-Grown Flowers?
- What Does the Rainforest Alliance Label Mean for Flowers?
- What About the Veriflora Certification?
- Where to Find Organic, Eco-Friendly, & Locally-Grown Flowers (Online & In-Person)
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Featured image credit: Enjoy Flowers
Why Buy Organic, Slow, & Locally-Grown Flowers?
When we’re talking about food and products that you put on your skin, buying organic is important in order to avoid pesticide residues that get left on the products you’re consuming or soaking in through your skin.
When it comes to flowers, however, the reasons to buy organic mostly come down to environmental sustainability and the safety of farm workers. Here are a few things to consider when deciding between conventionally-grown and organically-grown flowers for your next bouquet:
- Flowers that are grown using more ‘conventional‘ methods such as monocropping and synthetic pesticides tend to strip the topsoil of necessary nutrients over time. This not only puts the soil at risk of not being able to produce crops in the future, but it also leaves the land more vulnerable to things like flooding.
- Conventionally-grown flowers are sprayed with chemical-heavy pesticides, which have been linked to various health concerns such as hormone-disruption and cancer. When it comes to flowers, this is more of a concern for the farm workers and surrounding communities than it is for the end consumer.
- Organic and regenerative agriculture also helps to preserve the biodiversity of plants and insects, which is necessary for the functioning of our entire ecosystem (upon which our food supply depends).
- Most of the flowers from the conventional floral industry are grown in places like South America and then shipped all over the world. This leads to quite a large carbon footprint, not only because of the fuel needed to transport the flowers but also because of the refrigeration needed to keep the flowers looking fresh after a long transport.
- Buying locally-grown flowers can not only cut down on the carbon footprint in a big way, but it also means your flowers are likely to last a lot longer once they’re in your home or office!
- Locally-grown flowers also help to support small farmers and florists, which contributes to the overall local economy.
There is one problem, though… Organically-grown flowers actually aren’t super easy to find. There are a few reasons for this, the main one being that when it comes to things like pesticide use, consumers nor governments just don’t put the same kind of pressures on flower growers as they do on food farmers.
The best bet when it comes to buying ethical and sustainable flowers is to:
- Either find a local farmer or florist who sources organically-grown flowers (we’ve got two resources on how to do that below).
- Or buy from a flower shop (in store or online) that sources eco-friendly (even if not completely organic) flowers directly from the farms. We’ve listed our favorite online flower shops for you below.
What Does the Rainforest Alliance Label Mean for Flowers?
You’ll notice that a lot of the eco-friendly flowers on the market come with the Rainforest Alliance Certification. But what exactly does this label mean?
- the farm’s impact on ecosystems and wildlife habitats as a whole
- water and soil conservation
- decent and safe conditions for workers
- impact on surrounding communities
These are all really great things, but it’s important to note that Rainforest Alliance certified flowers do NOT necessarily mean the flowers are definitely organically-grown.
As you can see here, the Rainforest Alliance does allow synthetic pesticide use as a “last resort” and does not require certified products to be organic. That being said, they do state: “The standard strictly prohibits the use of the most hazardous pesticides, as well as agrochemicals prohibited by applicable local law or not legally registered in the country of use. It also prohibits all genetically modified organisms (GMOs).”
As you can see, there is quite a bit of gray area here. RA certified flowers are much more widely available than certified organic flowers, so we definitely recommend you choose the RA label over flowers without any label, especially when you’re shopping at the grocery store or from larger flower companies. It’s just worth being aware that your RA certified flowers might be organic, but they might not be.
What About the Veriflora Certification?
The Veriflora certification is another label that’s similar to Rainforest Alliance (though not quite as widely used). This third-party standard is exclusively for flower and potted plant producers and looks at things like:
- healthy, safe, and fair working conditions for growers and farm workers
- protection of soil and water resources
- responsible agrochemical use
- energy efficiency
- climate impact reduction
- ecosystem protection
- product quality
- community engagement
Again, although the Veriflora certification doesn’t guarantee that the flowers are grown completely organically, it does indicate that a certain level of sustainable and ethical practices have been used throughout the flower’s lifecycle and supply chain.
Where to Find Organic, Eco-Friendly, & Locally-Grown Flowers (Online & In-Person)
As I mentioned at the start of the article, it’s actually quite difficult to find flowers online that are 100% organically grown, so we recommend using one of the directory resources below to find farmers and florists in your area that are offering not only locally-grown but also organically-grown flowers. Small and local farmers and florists will generally be able to give you a lot more transparency about their growing practices compared to larger companies.
That being said, you might not be able to find what you’re looking for locally! And for that reason, we’ve also included our favorite eco-friendly online flower shops (like Bouqs) and unique flower alternatives (like Paper Sprouts) so that you can weigh your options and buy what’s best for you.
Without further ado, here are our recommendations for where to find the best ethical, eco-friendly, and organic flowers!
P.S. If you’re looking for some organic chocolate to go with your flowers, check out this article.
Slow Flowers (Directory)
Slow Flowers is a fantastic online directory to help you find local, seasonal, and sustainable florists, designers, event planners, supermarket flower departments, and flower farmers who are committed to using American-grown and Canadian-grown flowers.
Although not all of the growers featured in the Slow Flowers directory are organic, they are committed to providing flowers that are grown domestically. Slow Flowers also states that they prioritize members that use sustainable labeling on their flowers (like USDA Organic, etc.)
Using the Slow Flowers directory is super easy: just go to their home page, type in your zip code, and find florists and farmers near you. It will tell you which ones will provide local delivery as well!
Local Harvest (Database)
Local Harvest is another database/directory that can help you find locally-grown flowers. This one is a little bit harder to use because it includes farms, farmer’s markets, and CSAs, so you might have to dig a little bit to find the ones that sell flowers. But when it comes to local agriculture in general, it’s the best directory there is!
Try typing “flowers” in the search box and then inputting your city or zip code to find the farmers around you that are most likely to carry flowers you can buy.
Bouqs (Online Flower Shop)
If you are in a rush or can’t find what you need locally, Bouqs is one of your best bets. It’s an online flower shop that ships to all 50 US states (with limited options to Alaska and Hawaii) AND they have next-day delivery available for many of their bouquets. They offer both fresh and dried bouquets, gift boxes, flower subscriptions, potted houseplants, and wedding and corporate gift collections.
Bouqs is a really great option because of their wide variety of options to choose from. With everything from classic bouquets of freshly-cut roses and tropical varieties, to gorgeous dried flower creations and soft sympathy bouquets, they can really compete with the huge online flower shops like 1-800-FLOWERS.
Bouqs carefully sources directly from a number of different flower farms which minimize waste, recycle water, and use sustainable growing practices. They cut out the middlemen and work directly with their farm partners, which not only increases the transparency of the supply chain but also means you get longer lasting flowers. You can even find out more about the farmer who grew your flowers right on the product page.
Although Bouqs cannot guarantee that all of their flowers are organic, their website states that they work with farms that “avoid pesticides as much as possible, especially non-natural chemicals.” Additionally, of their partners carry third-party certifications such as Rainforest Alliance and Veriflora.
Enjoy Flowers (Online Flower Shop)
This is another great online flower shop where you can find one-time bouquets and flower subscriptions, along with packages for your events (including centerpieces and garland).
These “farm-to-front-door” flowers come from Rainforest Alliance Certified farms in Colombia, which uses sustainable rainwater cycling, vegetable composting and recycling, fair wages and benefits to workers, and more.
They also offer an ENJOY FLOWERS™ guarantee, which promises that your “fresh flower assortment will stay fresh for seven days after delivery.”
If you’re looking for something unique and different, check out Paper Sprouts’ plantable paper bouquets! This would be a great option for loved ones with lots of allergies or for a gift that you need to send far away.
These handmade ‘flowers’ comes in a variety of different colors, sizes, bouquets, and gift boxes. Each flower is made out of recycled paper that’s embedded with wildflower seeds which can be planted when your recipient is finished enjoying their bouquet!
A Few Other Options
Of course, your local grocery store might have some good flower options as well. It’s not uncommon to find Rainforest Alliance certified bouquets at places like Costco, Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods, Kroger, and more.
Lastly, a couple of other online flower shops that are similar to Bouqs and Enjoy Flowers are Revased and Urban Stems. ReVased works with sustainably-minded famers while also donating flowers to non-profit organizations, and they offer both one-time bouquet purchases along with flower subscriptions. Urban Stems works directly with Rainforest Alliance Certified farms and also offers one-time bouquets, flower subscriptions, dried flowers, and potted plants.
Flowers that are grown in an organic and sustainable way are better for the soil, our ecosystems, and the communities growing them. The next time you want to send a flowery message to a loved one, shop from one of the online flower shop or use one of the directories above to find slow- and locally-grown flowers near you!
Image credits: all product images belong to respective brands