Not many people know the conditions in which their flowers are cut and prepared for them. Nor are they aware of how the workers doing all the work are treated. Often times, flowers are just a symbol of love and affection, while many workers have suffered with abuse and unfair wages in order to get those flowers ready for export. In the past, most of the flowers being bought in the United States were coming from flower farms found in the Netherlands. That’s changing quickly, however, and with that change, a disregard for the workers proving the services. For example, many workers in Kenya and Tanzania are paid less than one US dollar for a full twelve hour day of work.
You may be worried about supporting a broken, unfair system if you buy flowers for your special someone. Luckily, there is a way to work around the growing monster that is the flower industry. Instead of buying any flowers you see, make sure to ask whether or not your flowers are free-trade flowers. This term means that the flowers were purchased from flower farms that are certified to be giving workers the rights they deserve. Below are also some other benefits of buying free-trade flowers:
- Ensures Fair Wages – Farms must prove that they are treating their workers fairly, meaning that they aren’t working crazy hours, too much, or working for too little pay. In this way, workers are paid fairly for the hard work they put into ensuring your flowers are ready for any occasion you may need they for. To keep the certification, farms must prove they are paying their workers a wage equal or more than minimum wage.
- Protects Children Workers – Buying certified flowers protects children in two different ways. First, it makes it mandatory for all child works to be over the age of fifteen in order to work. If they are over the age of fifteen and working, they aren’t allowed to do any work that could potentially be harmful to the child or interfere with their education.
- Keeps Safety First – Being certified as a fair-trade farm also means that the farm must prove that they are always making sure their facilities are the safest and healthiest. They must show that they’re always working hard to ensure the safety and well-being of their employees above all over things.
Buying fair-trade flowers may not immediately end the harsh conditions faced by many workers in many situations, but it will begin the transition to more desirable working spaces in the flower industry. In order to make sure you are armed with enough information to make an informed decision, do your research before you purchase your flowers. Go online and look up all the organizations that are buying fair-trade flowers or who support proper working conditions on flower farms.
By giving these companies your money, you open the door for more businesses to want to make the change to fair-trade flowers only. Together, businesses and people can work to make the lives of workers in Kenya safer and more fair.