Sunday, March 4, 2007

When Did Plants Become Disposable???

So, I got this lovely orchid plant(it's a Phalaenopsis) as a gift from my brother and sister-in-law several weeks ago, as housewarming gift, when I finally got around to throwing my housewarming party. (The party was a great success, if I say so myself.) When they gave it to me it had a lovely stem with four or five very pretty white blossoms on it. The last of the blooms died recently, and after removing the flower stem, I was reading the tag that came with the plant to find out how best to care for it. Reading the tag, I was rather discouraged to read the last line:It's that last line that really struck me. This is a lovely plant, even without the blooms, but the company that made it would prefer that I throw it away and just buy another one, rather than keep this plant and nurture it while it readies itself to bloom again. Now, throwing it away isn't directly wasteful. If I were to throw it out, I would put it into one of my compost bins (you aren't surprised that I compost, are you?), so the plant itself and its soil would get recycled. (One of the many reasons I look forward to Spring is that I can once again drag home my neighbors dead plants in order to add them to my composting efforts.) But all the energy that went into growing it, watering it, transporting it from Florida to Massachusetts (where my family bought it), would all be a waste. And much of that energy is, of course, in the form of fossil fuels. And so this little example of planned wastefulness strikes me as the perfect microcosm of the biggest source of our environmental woes and coming disasters: our economy depends on all of us wasting as much as we can, which always means, among other things, wasting fossil fuels. The company that grew this Phalaenopsis makes more profit the more we waste these plants by throwing them away and buying more. We are in serious trouble if we don't change our ways and waste less.


Rebecca said...

Let me say that I agree with you wholeheartedly that we all need to waste less. Consume less, waste less. Hear hear, But in this particular instance, I am afraid I ahve to agree with the grower. Orchids are notoriously difficult to grow and get to bloom, even in southeast Asia where they belong! If you try, you will see what I mean. They need strict temperature, light and humidity controls. You will need to build an orchid growing area in your house. Seriously. You will consume a lot of stuff getting the atmosphere just right to coax some blooms back on this baby. Really. It is OK. Just let her go. She will be reborn in compost.

Celeste said...


You may be right, as no matter how tenderly I care for it, that orchid of mine is looking a little less well each and every day. So, I guess that what this really means, is we shouldn't be buying orchids (mine was a gift) if we don't live in the right climate for they need to survive. I for one don't want to be buying disposable plants!