Fresh cut flowers are a wonderful way to show the special people in our life we love them. But did you know that beautiful bouquet you bought for your sweetheart, your mother, or your friend might have been picked by exploited or enslaved workers?
The cut flowers that large florists like 1-800-Flowers sell often come from countries in Central and South America and Africa -- where beautiful blossoms grow year round, but workers' rights aren't always respected. On Kenyan flower plantations, workers reported being forced to work 8-12 hour days for less than a dollar a day, handling dangerous chemicals without protective gear, and living in cramped, unsafe conditions. In Colombia and Ecuador, which are the main countries that supply the U.S. flower market, over half of female workers have been sexually harrased or assaulted on the job, and mandatory 70 to 80 hour work weeks without overtime pay are common. Exploitation and abuse of workers in the cut flower industry is rampant.
As one of the largest flower companies in the world, 1-800-Flowers has tremendous power to reduce exploitation in the cut flower industry. But currently, they don't offer a single Fair Trade certified stem or provide information about where their flowers come from.
It's time 1-800-Flowers stopped being part of the problem of human trafficking and exploitation in the cut flower industry and started being part of the solution.
As a 1-800-Flowers customer, the opportunity to buy flowers certified as grown and processed without the use of exploited labor, children, or slavery is very important to me. Therefore, I ask 1-800-Flowers to take the following steps:
- offer a Fair Trade certified line of arrangements, using 100% Fair Trade certified flowers, and including at least five arrangements. The 1-800-Flowers Fair Trade line should be directly linked from the homepage, and the availability of Fair Trade products should be advertised to customers;
- publish a semi-annual report of where 1-800-Flowers is sourcing its product and what protections are in place to ensure the company is not supporting labor exploitation in the flower industry; and
- publish a 1-800-Flowers Code of Conduct for suppliers, which includes prohibitions against forced or child labor and guarantees safe conditions for workers.
You have the opportunity to become a leader in the fight against exploitation in the cut flower industry, instead of a company benefiting from serious human rights abuses. Please, take this opportunity.