It’s the classic romantic combination: Valentine’s Day in Paris, the “City of Love”, and a bouquet of red roses. However, some Parisian florists are trying to wean customers off these flowers because of their environmental cost.
Most of the roses sold in France in the days leading up to Valentine’s Day, a peak selling time for the global flower industry, have to be imported by air from countries like Kenya, creating carbon emissions that contribute to climate change.
Sarah Meyssonnier / Reuters
Florists concerned about the environmental damage caused by this business say that there are viable alternatives that can be grown on site and try to encourage customers to try them out. They face a difficult battle because the tradition of offering red roses on February 14th, Valentine’s Day, is deeply rooted in many cultures.
Hortense Harang, founder of an online florist named Fleurs d’Ici (French for “flowers from here”), leads the campaign to get people out of roses.
“Red roses are so 1950s,” he says. “They are utterly impracticable flowers at this point. In our latitudes no roses grow this season. “
The campaign that started has gathered supporters. “It makes no sense to have flowers on the other side of the planet when we can get them locally,” agrees Edith Besenfelder, a 46-year-old Parisian florist who works with local and seasonal flowers.
But old habits are hard to kill. Celine Argente, the 40-year-old owner of the Sylvine flower shop in Paris, has encouraged customers to buy red tulips to declare their love. Despite his best efforts, his shop was filled with red roses to meet demand.
“It’s a classic that people can’t change,” he says. “The red rose remains the flower of Valentine’s Day.”