Flowers, Diamonds, and Gold: The Destructive Public Health, Human Rights, and Environmental Consequences of Symbols of Love
Abstract

On Valentine’s Day, anniversaries, and throughout the year, suitors and lovers buy cut flowers and diamond and gold jewelry for the objects of their affection. Their purchases are in part a consequence of timely traditions maintained by aggressive marketing. Most buyers are unaware that in gifting their lovers with these aesthetically-beautiful symbols, they are supporting industries which damage the environment, utilize forced labor, cause serious health problems, and contribute to violent conflicts. This article reviews the health and environmental consequences of, and the human rights abuses associated with, the production of cut flowers, gold, and diamonds. Recommendations to improve the safety of production standards are offered, as well as alternative gift suggestions which do not promote environmental degradation, human suffering, and death.


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