Posted by: Paula Delgado-Kling | February 14, 2014

This Valentine’s Day, buy flowers responsibly.

Happy Valentine’s Day.

In the last few weeks, Colombia has shipped more than 500 million flowers to its overseas markets. Carnations, alstromelia, chrysanthemums, gerbera daisies.

Colombia is the second largest exporter of flowers in the world, with more than US$1 billion in flowers every year, according to Proexport Colombia.

Over 200,000 Colombians are directly or indirectly employed in the flower industry.

It’s the only industry in the country dominated by female workers, who constitute about 65 percent of the approximate 100,000-person workforce.

But the women work in abusive conditions — long hours, pesticide use that leads to miscarriages, early births, nausea, and sexual harassment, according to Oxfam.

About 12 percent of Colombia’s flower workers are unionized. But about less than one percent of those unions are thought to be independent, as opposed to company-controlled, according to Amnesty International.

This Valentine’s Day, be informed about the flowers you buy.

Assure that your Colombian flowers are certified by Florverde, an independent certification process created in 1996 to provide solutions for improving the quality of life of flower workers, preserving and protecting the environment, and ensuring the highest production standards. Third parties review farm documentation, inspect farms, interview workers, and review lab tests results. Certified farms have reduced pesticide use by 44 percent, and workers are learning about employee rights and occupational health and safety.

Certified flowers are marked with the Florverde Sustainable Flowers® label and are not more expensive than others.

Find out where to buy Florverde flowers here.

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