The price of beauty: in City of Love, some say roses hurt the planet

PARIS (Reuters) – It’s the classic romantic combination: Valentine’s Day in Paris, the city of love and a gift of red roses. But some Parisian florists are trying to steer customers away from flowers because of their green cost.

Most of the roses sold in France in the run-up to Valentine’s Day, a peak sales period for the global flower industry, must be imported by air freight from countries such as Kenya, generating carbon emissions that contribute to the climate change.

Florists concerned about the environmental damage from this trade say there are viable alternatives that can be grown locally and are trying to encourage customers to try them.

They face an uphill struggle, because the tradition of giving red roses on Valentine’s Day, which falls on February 14, is deeply ingrained in many cultures.

Hortense Harang, founder of an online florist called “Fleurs d’Ici,” which is French for “Flowers from here,” has spearheaded the campaign to keep people away from roses.

“Red roses are so 1950s,” he said.

“Roses are something that is completely forbidden this season because it basically makes no sense to buy roses. Roses do not grow under our latitudes this season ”.

His campaign has gained support. “It’s not logical to have flowers from the other side of the planet if we can get them locally,” said Edith Besenfelder, a 46-year-old Parisian florist who works with local and seasonal flowers.

But old habits die hard. Celine Argente, the 40-year-old owner of the Sylvine florist in Paris, said she had been encouraging customers to buy red tulips as a way to declare their love. But despite that, her store this week was stocked with red roses to keep up with demand.

“It’s a classic that people can’t change from,” he said. “The red rose is still the flower of Valentine’s Day.”

Written by Christian Lowe; Edited by Alison Williams


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