Nothing Says ‘I Love You’ Like Secondhand Roses: The sharing economy has come for the flower industry.



Roses on Valentine’s Day don’t seem like such a kind gesture when you think about them getting shipped to the city on cargo planes from Ecuador, or decomposing in landfills and converting to methane gas.

So what’s a climate-conscious romantic to do?

Office space, scooters, and now, floral arrangements: The sharing economy has trickled down to the flower industry, with more companies across the city committed to either extending the temporary joy flowers bring or to reusing or composting them more responsibly.

After all, flowers are big business, and there’s room for growth. This year, for Valentine’s Day alone, Americans are expected to spend $2.3 billion on flowers, up from $1.9 billion last year, according to the National Retail Federation.

In a city like New York, where special events happen on a daily basis and cut flowers are in demand year-round, it was only a matter of time before eco-minded entrepreneurs saw an opportunity.

Jennifer Grove, an event planner, started Repeat Roses in 2014. Her company will pick up flowers after an event, restyle them, and transport them to a local nonprofit, like the Dwelling Place, a women’s homeless shelter and a regular recipient. When the flowers wilt, the company will deliver them to a composting facility. “To date we’ve diverted 197,137 pounds of waste from landfills,” Ms. Grove said earlier this month.

But Ms. Grove’s services aren’t cheap. Flower handling fees start at $1,750. This might explain the company’s heavy celebrity following.

Last Sunday, for example, Repeat Roses transported 590 pounds of florals from the Vanity Fair Oscar Party in Beverly Hills to the nearby Ronald McDonald House and the East Los Angeles Women’s Center. And last February, it collected flowers from the baby shower for Meghan, Duchess of Sussex, at the Mark Hotel on the Upper East Side and took them to local charities, including the American Cancer Society Hope Lodge. The flowers were later composted.

Of course, people could also forgo flowers altogether, said Elizabeth Balkan, director of the food waste program at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “We are not going to compost our way out of the flower issue, because there is still an enormous amount of resources used to create them,” she said.

In other words, why did the Duchess of Sussex, a self-proclaimed environmental advocate, have 389 pounds of flowers as part of her baby shower in the first place?

Because people love them, so to cancel them is unrealistic, said Jenny Flax, an event planner who has convinced many of her clients to use Repeat Roses for bar and bat mitzvahs. “People want to use flowers, but you can help them see how the amount of waste is alarming and what they can do to help.”

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