Many people will be celebrating Valentine’s Day this year, whether you’re in a romantic relationship or you’ll just have fun being single. This means that we’re going to be buying lots of food, cards, and gifts! Unfortunately, this also means that tons of resources will be used to make all these new items, so it is not a very eco-friendly holiday. Thankfully, with just a few little changes, V-day can be made to be sustainable for anyone who wants to celebrate.
Almost everyone buys cards for Valentine’s Day, which means tons of trees are used to make that paper, any glittery cards use plastic, and the inks used are often made from oil. So instead of buying a card, try these options instead:
Hand-make a card from paper scraps and other materials you already have at home!
Buy a card that is certified by the Forestry Stewardship Council (FSC). These cards will have the FSC logo (a check mark combined with a tree) on the back, which means the company that produced the card follows the principles and criteria of the FSC to ensure the trees are sustainably grown and harvested.
Send an e-card that you made or chose yourself, or even a video card that you could make yourself! These eliminate the use of resources to make a physical card!
The most common gifts (to your significant other or yourself) on Valentine’s Day are cut flowers, chocolate, jewelry, stuffed animals, and balloons.
Many pesticides are usually used to grow the flowers in cut bouquets, and they usually are not grown in season, so they require the use of heated greenhouses to make the flowers bloom. This is very energy intensive and contributes to pesticide pollution in the environment. Once you have these flowers, they also don’t last very long in a vase. So here are some tips for giving flowers on V-day:
Buy locally/organically/sustainably-grown cut flowers. Usually flowers grown locally, organically, or sustainably will have some indication on their labels.
Make your bouquet last as long as possible by using the flower food it comes with, and follow all the advice in the image to the right.
Buy potted plants that can live for years, as long as you take care of them properly. You can buy potted flowers instead of a bouquet, or you could buy herbs or another plant that you can use when cooking!
Chocolate is usually made with cocoa/cacao grown and harvested using unsustainable practices and slave labor, so when you’re searching for the perfect chocolate, look for Fair Trade and Organic certifications. These are some of the best ways to make sure you buy sustainably-produced chocolate. Also try to choose chocolates in foil, paper, or cardboard packaging to reduce the waste produced on the holiday. Better yet, make your own chocolate recipe, like chocolate-covered strawberries, chocolate mousse, fudge, cookies, or brownies!
Gifts like jewelry, stuffed animals, and balloons all are sweet gestures, but end up using unsustainably-sourced resources, including the metals and gems in jewelry, the plastic fabric and stuffing in stuffed animals, and the plastic or latex in balloons. Gifts also usually come in packaging, so avoid non-recyclable plastic packaging and choose alternatives like paper, cardboard, or metal. Better yet, try to get something without any packaging! Then wrap the item in reusable materials or items. Instead of buying new, unnecessary, resource and energy-intensive objects with disposable packaging, try these alternatives:
Make your own gift that has more thought and sentimentality put into it. For example, a t-shirt quilt, a photo book or collage, or any other item you could make yourself.
Buy used/vintage/antique jewelry and other items. These don’t use any new resources and usually have more charm and some cool stories behind them.
Give eco-friendly gifts that can help your partner live more sustainably. These could include reusable alternatives to disposable items or items that can be disposed of in a more sustainable way, like composting.
But the best alternative to giving a physical gift, and one that many people do anyway, is having a special outing or activity planned! Give an experience instead of a gift. Here are some examples:
Prepare a homemade locally-sourced meal.
A movie night or outing.
A concert, play, or show of some kind.
Hiking, going to a park/playground, or other outdoor activities.
Sledding, snowball fighting, snowman-making, or any other snow-related activity that you could do with all the snow that is currently on the ground.
Or any other activity that you and your partner enjoy!
We hope you have a happy, sustainable Valentine’s Day (or Singles Awareness Day), and that our advice here helps to give you some new creative ideas for things to do and give to yourself and others on this fun holiday!
~Written by Tyler Vonderhaar and Jennifer Beyer~