10 Feb

Map of the Week: Where do all of those Valentine’s Day bouquets come from?

Flower Bouquet Exports by Country 

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Most of us take it for granted that we will give or receive a bouquet on Valentine’s Day.  But where do these flowers come from? This map examines the flower production and export industry across the world, and gives us an insight into the economic geography of the global floral trade.

According to 2014 data from World Stop Exports, 48.10% ($4.7 billion) of the world’s flower exports come from the Netherlands. Next on the list is Colombia, which contributes 14.10% ($1.4 billion) to the global flower market.  Ecuador, Kenya, and Ethiopia follow to round out the top five producers worldwide.

These five countries make up more than half of the world’s flower exports, making flowers a vital source of jobs in these places.  But what might be the environmental impacts of both growing and shipping so many flowers all across the globe?

According to an article by Scientific American, “raising 12,000 Kenyan roses resulted in 13,200 pounds (6,000 kilograms) of CO2…[and] sending the roughly 100 million roses of a typical Valentine’s Day produces some 9,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from field to U.S. florist.”

In an article written by Independent, it is stated that in Kenya, “a single rose stem requires 10 litres of fresh water to reach its full size, so the industry is a huge drain on the country’s scant water resources, an issue that causes tension and even violence in the country.”

This Valentine’s Day, as you pick out the perfect flowers for your loved one, take a moment to think about the time and energy it took to create such a beautiful bouquet.  Consider making an effort to support sustainable, organic, and locally grown flowers – that way you can share your love for the planet too!

Written by Emma Hayward and Kathleen Emerson (2/10/16).