One of the first plants I have ever purchased was a small fittonia (it shortly died from underwatering rip) from the company Costa Farms. Throughout my quarantine, I have continued to buy more and more plants from this company, including this recent purchase of a calathea, as the company is able to provide excellent quality plants at a reasonable price. While the brand has taken several steps towards sustainability, the percentage above clearly shows that there is room for improvement especially seen with employee treatment. It is also worth noting that these changes could potentially impact both price and output quantity as the company pushes towards a more ethical treatment with their employees.
Listen, of course the product is going to be a perfect score simply because the product itself is a plant (arguably one of the most sustainable goods). But, besides that, several other factors make this plant great. Starting with the potting medium, Costa Farms prides itself on the use of coconut coir rather than soil dense in peat moss. The benefit of using coconut coir, which is pretty much the out husk of the coconut, is that growers find a use for it in soil rather than simply discarding it. On the other hand, peat moss is harvested from bogs where it takes roughly 25 years to renew. Not only is coconut coir a more sustainable option, it also improves soil ph value and aids in proper drainage. While the pots come in several terracotta varieties, they are also placed in plastic nursery pots. The company recommends donating them to nurseries or big box stores, which either reuse them for other plants or properly recycles them. It's also worth mentioning that Calethias are FANTASTIC air purifiers as they remove harmful pollutants from the surrounding air.
Costa farms has made strides to conserve energy and lower their carbon footprint especially seen through their growing protocols. Besides growing in sunny regions such as Miami, North Carolina, South Carolina, and the Dominican Republic, the company has begun using renewable energy in locations with greenhouses. This is done through the use of solar panels, which has reduced energy costs and lowered carbon emissions. While the company has made strides to conserve energy during the growing process, they face an issue with greenhouse gas emissions through the transportation of products. Costa Farms is initially based in Miami, Fl but has now expanded to North Carolina, South Carolina, China, and The Dominican Republic. While it is unfortunate that the shipping of the products isn't that sustainable, it is for good reason as the growing amount of facilities is the only way to combat consumer demands.
While many employees have vocalized enjoying working with plants and growing them, they have also expressed similar concerns about being overworked. One of the main issues being the overworking of employees to push output, even leading to competition within the workforce as employees are praised by upper management for working long hours. Several former employees have openly stated the pressure they felt working at the company.
To make matters worse, the company has faced backlash due to their response towards COVID 19. while employees were provided gloves and two cloth masks, they were still working in close proximity with one another (this is usually about 20 employees working together). While many may question why Costa farms continued production during the pandemic, it is worth recognizing the rise of houseplant owners since the start of COVID 19. Many consumers (including myself) began growing interests in gardening as a mode of therapy. During such a stressful time in all of our lives, it was comforting to find something to care for. With that came a rise in plant purchases causing nurseries and large companies like Costa Farms to act accordingly in order to satisfy consumer demands.