Love Mom, While Staying Green

Beach Love you Mom

So it’s Mother’s Day and you want to let your Mom know that you love and appreciate her. And you want to show your planetary “Mom” that you love her too this Mother’s Day by taking environmental factors into consideration.

Of course, what almost every Mom wants most is that Phone call and it has a minimal environmental impact (once infrastructure is accounted for). There are a whole slew of “call reminder” apps for our gadget attached modern society. At least, it would be an in-our-face reminder to do what we all should do more often. Or get Mom a tech “toy” like a Kindle reader and reduce printed books, which many people have too many of these days, since printing is so economical. We have begun to cull our own library and are dropping off books at handy collection boxes for the Greater St Louis Book Fair (other cities probably have this possibility as well) – fair proceeds benefit local non-profit education and literacy programs. Another idea would be to make a “donation” to a good cause, such as the American Red Cross, in your mother’s name.

You can also not use paper by sending an e-card. Some of my favorite e-cards currently come from, where animation of good quality is married up with very nice music. So, as to materials – no paper, more trees. No carbon footprint transporting your card by snail mail. I must admit, I’m overly sentimental this year – not only did I send an eCard and post a little ditty on her Facebook page, but I made a custom card (which is what I often do using our Inkjet printer) and did mail it to her. I guess I feel a clock ticking in there somewhere and am compensating because many of my friends can’t overindulge their moms anymore. In fact, my Yemm & Hart partner’s mom (yeah, my mother-in-law, sweet best friend that she was truly to me) left us in Feb 2009.

Busy moms never have time for themselves and because they value photographs are often the person taking them. This Mother’s Day present her with a portrait sitting for herself with her children and/or grandchildren. Our own annual Mother’s Day tradition is pictures of me and my two boys (started when the oldest boy was still an infant) amongst the Wild Azaleas that bloom this time of year. Dad takes the pictures and I have an annual record of how my boys have grown, taken in the same month each year. And Nature provides my Mother’s Day Flowers.


Which brings me now to the topic of Cut Flowers . . .

A wholesaler at the L.A. Flower District told Freakonomics Radio that Mother’s Day is easily his biggest day of the year: it’s 30% of his year’s revenues. Turns out that “80% of all cut flowers sold in the U.S. are imported. The leading producers are Colombia, Ecuador, and Costa Rica, places where the sun shines roughly 12 hours a day, year-round. The flowers must be refrigerated immediately after they’re cut; most are flown to the Miami International Airport, which handles about 187,000 tons of flowers a year, and then trucked to their destination”.

Love Mom Cut Flowers

“If we ship food halfway across the planet, at least we eat it; it’s our sustenance. But flowers just get looked at, and then tossed.” Cut flowers “seem to have somehow escaped the environmental scrutiny that accompanies what we eat, how we transport ourselves, etc”. Dartmouth geographer Susanne Freidberg, who is quoted at Freakonomics and has studied global trade and how firms try to calculate carbon footprints, says about cut flowers versus the “plastic” variety – that ecologically, the plastic might be a better alternative: “They’re so lightweight, they wouldn’t need to be flown anywhere. They wouldn’t decompose and produce greenhouse gases in any landfill. There’s probably no slave labor because the production of the plastic flowers is probably all mechanized. And there’s the endless lifespan — so there are possibilities for regifting them.”

Life is full of a million little decision points that can make a big difference. Most of the time, we don’t stop to give a few moment’s consideration to the true complexities of our choices. It’s the cloth vs disposible diaper or the paper or plastic grocery bag arguments. Life is complex and so are our choices, if we truly care about the quality of the environment we need to sustain our human species.

Happy Mother’s Day to mothers everywhere – including my mom and my daughter, and yeah, Happy Mother’s Day to my self as well. Mothers are awesome. Without them, the species would not continue . . . which could lead to an unhappy realization about population pressures – but not today. Today, let’s just be grateful for our Moms.

~ Information Resources

“Out of the box gift ideas for Mother’s Day” blog by Gina Joseph posted May 4, 2011 –

Animated eCards at

Greater St Louis Book Fair –

A Rose By Any Other Distance: A New Marketplace Podcast” by Stephen J Dubner posted May 3, 2012 at Freakonomics –


Blog author ~ Deborah Hart Yemm is co-founder of
Yemm & Hart, a green materials producer



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