Photo: What makes a green bouquet?

(Credit: kazandrew2 via Flickr)

A typical floral bouquet may well be a pesticide-laden , grown by children in a country far away, under hideous working conditions. It's not the nicest way to say "I care".

Luckily, your blooms can plant the seed for long-lasting happiness when you choose fair-trade flowers or potted plants.

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Fair-trade flowers are available from major retailers like Choices, Whole Foods and Thrifty Foods. Other florists may also have fair-trade or local options available by request. If not, point them toward buds certified by one of three organizations: FairTrade Canada, the Rainforest Alliance and Veriflora.

Although there are subtle differences between certifiers, they all provide similar assurances to the buyer and benefits to the grower. These include restrictions on certain agrochemicals, equitable wages (often double the standard) and a firm commitment to avoid child labour.

Fair-trade certification is a huge step toward showing your loved ones you care about their health and the world. But it doesn't guarantee that the flowers you're giving are completely free of harmful chemicals. This is because no one tests imported flowers for chemical residues.

Even better than choosing a bouquet, look for live flowers. Something that grows is an enduring symbol of your love, one that's infinitely more romantic than a short-lived burst of colour that dies within a few days. A locally grown, pesticide-free plant is a great choice. Many household plants produce impressive flowers, with the added benefit of increasing the air quality in your home! Or, for a fresh twist on the flower-giving tradition, surprise your garden-loving friend with a thoughtful selection of spring seeds or bulbs.

Whether your choose a fair-trade bouquet or a beautiful live plant, your sweetheart will be delighted by the care you put into choosing an arrangement that's as good for the world as it is thoughtful!

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