best fair and ethical bouquets

If you want to send a surprise to your loved one for Valentine’s Day, a bouquet of blooming flowers is always a surefire choice.

A quick search online reveals many pretty options, but if you’re concerned about durability, there are a number of things to consider before ordering your flowers.

Where do they come from? The vast majority of cut flowers we enjoy in the UK come from overseas, meaning your bouquet has often come a long way to your front door. It’s not necessarily worse than choosing British stems, as they’re sometimes grown in energy-intensive greenhouses, but if buying local or cutting air miles is important to you, stick with English bunches.

What are the working conditions? We all want to support safe and supportive work practices. Look for flower brands that display Fair trade, Florverde or other recognized ethical certifications on their websites, so you know staff are treated fairly and earn a living wage. Essentially, brands should be happy to shout about it. If they aren’t, there’s probably a reason for it.

How were they grown? Chemical pesticides can negatively affect surrounding wildlife and eventually seep into the water supply, so look for organic fertilization methods. Naturally, flowers need a lot of water, but the most environmentally friendly flowers will be grown in a way that keeps an eye on water usage and carbon emissions. Brands must also dispose of their waste responsibly.

How are they packaged? Committed to reducing single-use plastics? Many bunches are still packaged in non-recyclable cellophane. Fortunately, some companies have started using a new biodegradable alternative. Or better yet, none. We have described these brands below.

How we test flower delivery services

We tested 20 flower delivery services to find the most reliable online florists. We sent bouquets from each brand to a panel of 190 people, who reported on their experience. They told us how the flowers arrived, what they thought of the packaging and how long they bloomed. We also ordered a bouquet from each company to assess the online ordering experience ourselves.

Below, we’ve rounded up the best ethical and sustainable flowers you can buy, taking into account packaging, environmental impact, labor conditions and transportation methods.

If in doubt, contact the brands themselves. Most of the companies below have a live chat feature for quick answers to your questions.

arena flowers

Eco references: Officially the UK’s most ethical florist, Arena has achieved a perfect score of 100 over the past three years in the Ethical Business Index. She doesn’t put anything in landfill, packaging is free of single-use plastic, and for every bouquet of flowers she buys, she plants two trees through her partnership with Eden Reforestation Projects. Not bad.

country lifethe verdict of: Our testers loved their hand-tied bouquets, which arrived well-wrapped and well-watered. They lasted between 10 and 12 days, but there are delivery restrictions for some special occasions.

Fair trade? Not all bouquets, but many are, and Arena claims to monitor all of its non-Fairtrade certified suppliers.

Plastic-free packaging? Yes.

UK clusters on offer? Not currently, but the company claims to source locally and seasonally whenever possible.

apple blossoms

appleyardflowers.com

£36.99

Eco references: Appleyard wraps its flowers in recyclable paper and cardboard. It claims to strive to produce as little waste as possible throughout its production process. Finally, his sources are only from Britain and sometimes Kenya, putting a percentage of what he pays for these flowers back into the community – this means building new schools and working only with Fairtrade farms who pay a living wage to workers.

country lifethe verdict of: Arriving safely at our testers’ doors with thorough care instructions, Appleyard’s striking and balanced arrangements unanimously impressed. For Mother’s Day, additional delivery restrictions are in place, but you can get same day delivery if you ship to London.

Fair trade? Stems from Kenya are Fairtrade.

Plastic-free packaging? Yes.

UK clusters on offer? Yes, all Appleyard flowers are either British or from Kenyan Fairtrade farms.

Flowering & Wild

Eco references: Bloom & Wild has been working on its sustainability credentials over the past two years. The brand now says it works with global projects to offset its carbon emissions, including two Gold Standard certified projects based in Kenya, where she also gets a lot of her flowers from. All mailbox packaging is now fully recyclable and the company sends no waste to landfill.

country lifethe verdict of: The website provides a seamless ordering experience and the bouquets were equally outstanding. Flora stayed in bloom for three weeks, earning B&W high praise from our panel – all said they would use the company again and recommend it to their loved ones. However, next day delivery is not always an option due to the seasonality of these models.

Fair trade? No, but the company has certain policies in place to ensure workers are well taken care of.

Plastic-free packaging? Mailbox packaging is 100% recyclable. Plastic water bags are currently used to keep hand-tied stems fresh, but the brand says it’s working to make them recyclable as soon as possible.

UK clusters on offer? Some B&W rods are sourced from the UK, but you cannot filter by UK options. Look for a badge that says they’re from the UK, as shown on these UK tulips.

clusters

Eco-certificates: Flowers will be cellophane wrapped unless you opt for a letterbox option, so choose one to avoid adding more plastic to the landfill. In terms of sustainability, Bunches sources many of its rods Florverde certified farms. It is a voluntary program designed to support workers’ rights while meeting certain environmental standards, including controlling water use and emissions, using organic fertilization methods, and responsible disposal of waste.

country lifethe verdict of: A generous selection is on offer, but stick to the classics, as some clusters feature artificially dyed or shimmering petals. Our testers found their perfect bouquet easily, thanks to the range of helpful filters, from flower species to color. The option to use Apple Pay or Google Pay also made payment faster. The flowers arrived safely and are beautiful, although a bit smaller than advertised.

Fair trade? No, but many Bunches flowers are ethically certified by Floverde.

Plastic-free packaging? Standard bouquets are wrapped in non-biodegradable cellophane, but letterbox options are wrapped in paper and cardboard only.

UK clusters on offer? No.

Interflora

Eco-certificates: When it comes to the origins of its flowers, Interflora has fewer references than the other brands on our list, due to the way it works with independent florists both locally in the UK and around the world. Nonetheless, we were impressed. The company does not use glitter and its packaging is well designed. the gift boxes are made with recycled materials and are fully recyclable, while the cellophane and flower food sachets are biodegradable and the ribbon is made in the UK using only recycled plastic.

country lifethe verdict of: You don’t know exactly what your arrangement will look like because while you can make special requests, your local florist will use whatever flowers they have in stock. Fortunately, our testers were delighted with their fine deliveries. They arrived well protected, leaving everyone ready to recommend Interflora. Florists are stationed around the world, making it a go-to for sending flowers further afield.

Fair trade? No.

Plastic-free packaging? Yes.

UK clusters on offer? No.

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Terisa K. Carn