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Artificial plants a grave concern

Saturday 29 October 2022 | Written by Te Ipukarea Society | Published in Local

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Artificial plants a grave concern
Will you be going with plastic or all natural this Tumara? TIS/22102810

Each year, on November 1, we remember those who have passed on. The expression we use is Turama or All Souls Day. This is a day dedicated to honouring and showing our respects for our deceased loved ones.

In the days leading up to Turama, you can find families and friends cleaning, repainting, and decorating their loved ones’ graves with flower arrangements. It is a special time of the year in the Cook Islands when graves are spruced up and decorated with artificial or sweet-scented flowers.

Every year, more people in Rarotonga become involved with decorating graves, however, the beautiful and colourful assortment of artificial flower decorations also has its everlasting contribution towards plastic waste.

At first glance, artificial plants might seem like a great idea. They don’t require a lot of maintenance, don’t need water, don’t use soil or a growing medium, and no matter how bad you are at gardening, they will never die. But when you dig a little deeper, it becomes obvious why our natural flowers are preferable to artificial plants made from plastic.

Artificial flowers are prone to deterioration and fading due to their constant exposure to sunlight. Fake plant arrangements are created in factories using harmful dyes and synthetic materials that aren’t easy to recycle. Once an artificial plant is faded or damaged, it is thrown into the rubbish bin where it ends up in the landfill, where it won’t break down. You can also find these arrangements left by graves to be blown away by the wind, ending up littering our backyards and oceans.

These fake plants are only contributing to our growing pollution problems. Our landfill is already overflowing as it is. While artificial plants are cheap, durable, and convenient, most of these fake plants will eventually find their way to our beaches and surrounding environment, where they will slowly degrade and break down into micro plastics.

Artificial plants, may work to look the part, but they don’t offer natural benefits like our living plants do in the part in the long term. On the other hand, fresh natural flowers break down in a short time pouring nutrients back into the earth.  Living plants also contribute towards cleaning the air, making it breathable for you and everyone around you – free natural benefits artificial plants simply cannot offer.

If you are looking to gather a large arrangement, you may struggle to find artificial options that work well together. Your preferences for leaf and flower textures will grow immensely when you go for the fresh flower arrangements. Consider bringing potted plants or planting fresh organic flowers around your loved ones’ graves. The more plants and fresh organic flowers on this planet, the better off we will be. If you are going to enjoy the beauty of plants, you might as well get all of the benefits. So, this Turama, consider going 100 per cent natural with ‘living’ flower arrangements to beautify the resting place of your loved ones that have passed on. The natural way is after all more meaningful and economical if picked from your very own garden.