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.
Tell 1-800-Flowers to join other major retailers in offering Fair Trade flowers.
1-800-Flowers uses a certifying agency called Florverde, which ensures that its flower farms measure up to certain environmental standards -- this is a good thing. But Florverde has almost no labor standards: A farm can be certified even if it uses forced labor.Indeed, Florverde is owned by the Association of Colombian Flower Exporters, so it has a financial incentive to keep wages low and suppress workers' rights.
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 email 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.
Click this link to tell 1-800-Flowers to make a promise this Valentine's Day to sell Fair Trade flowers:
Since this campaign began, the company has emailed to tell us that it will post more information on its website about the farms that supply their flowers. But this is a far cry from selling fair trade products -- and we have much more to do to make sure workers are protected. This is the week to do it.
Thanks for taking action,