Flower shops in Toronto have been scrambling to fill requests for beautiful bouquets and deliver them in time for Valentine's Day.
"It's incredibly busy every year," florist Jessica Lamb said from Sweetpea's in the Roncesvalles neighbourhood.
The flower of choice for most romantics? Roses, of course, because "they're obviously the symbol of love," Lamb explained.
But that Valentine's Day bouquet could be a very costly choice when it comes to the environment, said Kalynn Crump, founder of ReBLOOM.
It's a company that will pick up flowers from large events for a fee and deliver them to a local women's shelter, hospice or seniors' home before collecting the flowers a few days later and composting them.
Crump suggests instead of roses that are usually flown in from Colombia or Ecuador — buy locally grown flowers.
"Enjoy lilies or other creative, beautiful arrangements that you can create with a very little carbon footprint," she explained. Crump pointed out that a flower like a ranunculus is grown locally and will last up to two weeks.
ReBLOOM has a baseline fee of $500 to do a pickup, so it's not economical to use the service for just one person, but Crump encourages everyone to consider walking their bouquet over to their local seniors' home to brighten up the day of someone in need.
"This time of year, it is so important for us to recognize seniors and social isolation … Mobility is a huge issue and a lot of the time, because of the weather, they're not going out," she said.
And always compost because "it's the most important thing you can do," Crump said, adding flowers thrown into the garbage end up in a landfill without getting a chance to turn back into soil.
The importance of 'sharing that joy'
When Julia Zini was planning her wedding back in 2018, she wanted to find ways to cut down on the waste generated by such a large event.
So when she saw that ReBLOOM would pick up her bouquet and centrepieces, made up of roses, hydrangeas and baby's breath, and donate them in her name to a charity of her choice — Zini chose Nellie's Women Shelter and Labdara Lithuanian Nursing Home in Toronto — she jumped on it right away.
"It's not just the sustainability or the reduction of the physical waste, but also sharing that joy of the flowers was important too," she said.
ReBLOOM's Crump had the idea back in 2014 after working in the event industry for years and seeing heaps of flowers tossed into the garbage and, ultimately, the landfill.
"I think that there is an amazing feeling that happens when people know that it was not all waste — we didn't enjoy the flowers just for hours but we gave them back to the community," Crump said.
The feel-good factor
The past two years have seen a huge boost in business for Crump. In fact, the Canada-wide company is fully booked for weddings until the end of the summer and there's a six-week waiting list for corporate events.
That could be due to a huge interest these days in turning a wasteful industry into something that ends up being environmentally friendly and also has a "feel-good factor," one expert said.
"They capitalized on something that people will feel good about right away," explained Dr. Sonya Graci, an associate professor who teaches hospitality and tourism management at Ryerson University's Ted Rogers School of Management.
"It provides a second purpose to someone in need," Graci said.
"So that charitable arm really is quite interesting because it'll give people that feel-good factor."
"You see that everyday people are looking at how they can reduce their impact; they want to know how they could do more," she said.