With the start of February comes two weeks where everything is awash in red and pink, with heart and cupid motifs adorning everything from your local coffee shop to the workplace. Valentine’s Day is a major holiday event and cultural touchstone that so many people enjoy. Whether you have a special someone in your life who you’ll be spending it with, or if you’re planning to have a “Pal-entine’s” get together with your closest friends, there are a number of eco-friendly considerations to be made.
In some ways, Valentine’s rivals Christmas for the most commercialized (read: wasteful) holiday celebrated in the Western world. Between the endless stream of cards and paper valentines given out by children and adults alike, the boxes of chocolate or individually-wrapped treats, the pesticide-sprayed flowers, the tissue paper and other wrapping used on gifts, and the luxurious dinners out, there are plenty of areas to reduce your footprint on this holiday. With a few easy changes to the old standbys, you can show appreciation not just for the special people in your life but also our planet.
Don’t buy cards
Instead of wasting all that paper (much of which is not made from recycled materials) and ink, why not try an alternative to the card store? Make your own valentines at home from pretty scraps of paper, thin cardboard, nice wrapping you’ve saved, or anything else you can get creative with! This is also a great activity for kids, and gives them the chance to hand out something a little more personalized to their friends than a store-bought valentine which can often be a double of what someone else is giving out.
If you want to go completely paper-free, why not send an eCard? There are some great free options out there with which to proclaim your love of nature, including ones from the World Wildlife Fund and Conservation International.
You can still have flowers
… just try to make them the kind that will keep growing! Cut flowers are a big business and incredibly wasteful, as most are grown unnecessarily in greenhouses outside of their natural climates to allow them to be delivered as fresh as possible. Give your loved ones the chance to appreciate their gift by providing a from-seed flower growing kit, or a nice potted plant to brighten up their home until spring comes. Bonus points if you can get a local wildflower variety which they can plant outside to feed pollinators like bees and butterflies!
Choose chocolate wisely
Everyone loves a sweet treat, whether you give and receive them from loved ones or go get discounted chocolates on February 15th. Instead of grabbing a box off the shelf at the local grocery store or pharmacy, take the time to do a little bit of research and find a brand which is better for the planet. If you can choose chocolate which has been certified by the Rainforest Alliance, not only will you be doing your part to help maintain one of the most threatened ecosystems on the earth, but you’ll also be ensuring that the cocoa farmers are provided with a living wage and safe working conditions.
Always keep an eye out for organic and fair-trade chocolate, whether for a gift or for yourself. Not only is it a more ethical choice, but it’s almost always a much higher quality than the boxed varieties sold this time of year. You could also have a fun night in, making homemade fudge with your sweetie or friends.
Rethink “luxury” gifts
Perfumes or colognes are a traditional Valentine’s gift which we should probably ditch. Commercial perfumes contain irritants, carcinogenic ingredients, and the heavy scent can really bother people with allergies or sensitivities. If your partner enjoys scents, why not gift them a bottle of an essential oil for home use, or an organic, hand-blended perfume oil?
Jewelery is another nasty culprit for environmental destruction that we often don’t consider. Between unsustainable mining practices and the amount of carbon emissions created in the processing of metals, that diamond pendant or gold band can carry not just a high price tag, but a high cost to the planet. If you’d like to give someone an accessory, try searching for a stylish vintage or second-hand piece. Alternatively, try to purchase from jewelers who have been sourcing precious metals and gemstones in a certified ecologically and socially responsible manner. You could also go for a sustainable wooden piece or one made from recycled materials. These have a lot more personality, too!
However you choose to celebrate this month, there are ways to make your Valentine’s Day greener. Hopefully we’ve started your imagination working, and you may even come up with some other great eco-friendly ideas. Let us know if you have any eco-friendly plans or gifts for this year!
Join The Keeper & The Moon Cup Newsletter. You will receive sustainable tips and special offers right in your inbox!
Jennie Lyon is a green lifestyle writer and the owner of Sweet Greens, the award-winning green lifestyle blog. She posts on simple, fun ways families can go green together – starting with her own. When she isn’t blogging, you will find her paddleboarding, sailing, beach-combing, camping, or spending time with her amazing husband and 14-year old son.