I read an interesting article about the absence of flowers at the Olympics. Via Thrillist, "A Rio 2016 spokesperson said handing out tropical flowers to the athletes -- which would later be thrown away -- would be wasteful and not sustainable."
Wow, isn't that weird!? Flowers, a renewable resource. Not sustainable. Hmm...
I'll admit at first I was angry, miffed that the Rio Olympics had degraded part of my hortiCULTURE into trash. "Now we have to do yet ANOTHER marketing program...," I thought.
But, the quote’s peculiarity continued to eat at me. What was it?
I asked myself, "What if they are right?" What if cut flowers are not sustainable? I know there are qualms about the ways flowers are grown—fertilizers, pesticides, fair work practices, and transport to name a few. Therefore, I would understand that kind of comment, and horticulture is working hard to remedy those growing challenges.
But, their perspective doesn’t seem to be centered on the production practices; it's on the flowers being thrown away. Just like a bottle or old tire, it'll be tossed once it's used.
The focus on flowers shouldn’t be the landfill. They are part of the magic moments in our lives that feed our souls. And, being so, they aren't sustainable because they will fade.
So will a sunset. A laugh. A tree. A life. A shooting star. An ice cream sundae. A song. A kiss. A painting.
These things each have a beginning and an end. As Ben Rector says, "It's the walking in between" that make these treasures count. The middle ground is where memories and the quality of life grow, and intangibles are sustainable.
In this case I see common sense and sustainability as disjointed. Ty Montague has taught me that every action an organization takes is part of its story, and the Rio Olympics committee's actions don't match their story.
Are the flowers any less sustainable that the amount of resources that were used to make the trinkets that are now being given to the athletes with a sustainability sticker slapped onto the present? I would love to see some of that data. They could have done SO MUCH MORE with flowers and sustainability like wrap them in biodegradable sleeves, or start a flower composting program at the Rio Olympics.
The essence of sustainability is to preserve the earth so that life is worth living. A flowerless life is not.