Why Flowers Aren’t the Best Valentine’s Day Gifts


Valentine’s day flower warehouse in Miami (the entry point of most flower imports)

Libby Hod, Guest Writer

Valentine’s Day is soon approaching and with it comes a time to express your love to your sweetheart. Should you get them chocolates? Roses? A sweet card? Maybe a nice dinner? Or better yet, show them some cheesy romantic gesture? 

Traditionally, Valentine’s Day is a day to celebrate your love for others and to give sweet gifts to express this love. In America, especially, Valentine’s Day has been commercialized and capitalized; Americans are expected to spend $18.2 billion on Valentine’s Day paraphernalia, according to the National Retail Federation (NRF), with flowers representing $2 billion worth of this expenditure. 

Flowers are one of the most popular and traditional expressions of love, originating back to Greek mythology. Flowers are highly romanticized in films and media, essential for the big tacky gestures of romance. But flowers are more rotten than they seem.

My distaste for these popular gifts stems (get it!) from their negative impact. The cut flowers gifted on Valentine’s Day, to meet the excessive holiday demand, come predominantly from Colombia. To ship the flowers to America, there are about 30 cargo planes, each with over one million flowers, flying every day between America and its origin country for about three weeks, according to the International Council of Clean Transportation (ICCT). According to the ICCT, this totals to about 360,000 metric tons of CO2, which is equivalent to the carbon emissions of about 78,000 cars driven in one year! This calculation still excludes the carbon emissions associated with refrigeration and further transportation, making the footprint exorbitant. 

And for no good reason! Just look at the symbolic value of these cut flowers. If a flower is meant to represent your undying love for someone, what does it mean when it inevitably wilts after a few weeks? 

There are plenty of other more meaningful gifts you can give to your loved ones that aren’t as damaging. If you want to stay in the vein of flowers, try getting locally grown flowers, paper flowers, dried flowers (they last forever!), or seeds to plant so you can watch a flower grow! 

Ultimately, Valentine’s Day gifts are about showing someone that you love them, understand them, and value them. To express these same sentiments to mother Earth, try finding another way to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year without flowers!