Tuesday, February 8, 2011
Valentine's Day, which accounts for 40% of fresh flower sales annually, is fast approaching.
If you're planning to order a bouquet from 1-800-Flowers -- the world's largest florist -- you should know where most of those flowers really come from.
At flower farms in Ecuador and Colombia -- the countries that export the most to the U.S. -- two-thirds of the workers are women. These women are routinely subjected to harassment and even rape from their male supervisors. They suffer eye infections and miscarriages from consistent contact with dangerous pesticides.
In the weeks leading up to Valentine's Day and Mother's Day, they're routinely forced to work 80-hour weeks with no overtime pay. Attempts to form a union are met with opposition by police and armed forces.
Many retailers -- such as Whole Foods and Stop & Shop -- have taken the important first step of offering Fair Trade flowers to consumers who want no part of these abuses. Fair Trade certified farms must adhere to strict standards for workers' rights, which prevents the abuses described above.
1-800-Flowers is the largest florist in the world. Yet they offer no Fair Trade flowers at all.
I just signed the petition from Change.org, "Ask 1 800 Flowers to Offer Fair Trade Flowers That Aren't Picked By Exploited Workers" and wanted to see if you could help by adding your name.
This is the week before Valentine's Day -- more people will purchase flowers during the next seven days than any other week this year. This is our best opportunity to demand a promise from 1-800-Flowers to join its competitors in offering Fair Trade flowers. So after you sign the petition, please share this info widely and post on Facebook -- do everything you can to pressure 1-800-Flowers to show a little respect for the women who toil in unbearable circumstances. The women without whom they'd have no flowers to sell.
Our goal is to reach 35,000 signatures and we need more support. You can read more and sign the petition here: