The flower industry has a heavy environmental footprint but some growers are changing their agricultural and shipping practices. Toine Overgaag, president of family-owned Westerlay Orchids, grower and seller of live orchids, based in Carpenteria, Calif., joins Mitch Ratcliffe to discuss sustainable agriculture practices in the live plant industry. Westerlay uses natural predators instead of pesticides to deal with pests; energy and water management technologies; and recirculates waste exhaust CO2 to increase photosynthesis of plants. The company distributes more than 4 million orchids primarily through local and national supermarket chains, including Trader Joe’s, Kroger, and Safeway.
We talk through the environmental implications of the flower-growing industry and how to improve them. Westerlay uses slow shipping, ensuring trucks are full before moving the flowers to minimize the impact of sending flowers to stores and customers. The company produced CO2-eq emissions of about 2.7 ounces per unit sold and reported 331 tons of emissions from ocean and freight shipping in 2021. That’s about the equivalent of the emissions of 23 average Americans, based on 2020 figures. Toine, whose family is Dutch, joined the MPS, a certification program for The Netherlands flower industry, which has been awarded Westerlay an “A” rating each year. You can learn more about Westerlay Orchids at westerlay.com.