Love is in the air and many of us will be reaching for a card, box of chocolates, and some roses to show our significant other how much we love them. There are many eco-friendly options available to show your love without having to contribute to the landfill and potential pollution this Valentines’s Day.
A lot of holidays are very wasteful and Valentine’s Day is no exception. Christmas can put a lot of strain on some of our natural resources, specifically trees, but Valentine’s Day puts stress on not only trees but natural mineral ores (such as gold and silver), and the flower and cocoa industry. On top of the natural resources strain, it also contributes to our wasteful lifestyles and sends a lot of trash to the landfills.
Here are some ideas to keep your Valentine’s Day a zero waste an eco-friendly holiday with your significant other.
1. Recyclable Cards
Over 190 million cards are estimated to be exchanged during Valentines Day. It’s not as big as Christmas’ 1.6 billion cards but if you add up all of the cards sent out for each holiday during the year it adds up to a lot. One of the biggest issues with cards is that many of them are not recyclable due to added glitter, embellishments, and plastics. Choosing a plain old paper card that can be recycled is a great option but you should also encourage the receiver to recycle it when they are done with it. Better yet, don’t send cards at all or send digital ones.
2. Get Chocolates from Chocolateries
Who doesn’t like chocolate? I mean, I’m a huge fan of chocolate but the chocolate industry can be…dirty. In America alone, we consume 58 million pounds of chocolate during the week of Valentine’s Day. Most of the world’s chocolate comes from West Africa and unfortunately, the chocolate industry is hurting the environment where it is grown. There’s such a high demand for chocolate that they are cutting down forests to grow this cash crops and some are using child labor. Now I’m not saying to not buy chocolate, but go to a chocolaterie, or a small sweets shop, and get a small thing of chocolate rather than a huge box of chocolates. At this shop, you can ask about where they get their chocolate, if it’s fair trade, and if they could use minimal packaging (or a container you bring) for your chocolate selection. This also helps support local business and hopefully good environmental practices!
3. Shop Local
This ties in with finding a local chocolate shop but there is so much more you can get locally for Valentine’s Day. You can find not only some unique gifts for your significant other but you can also find local cheeses and wine. If you live somewhere where they make wine take this opportunity to get some local wine! Ohio does make wine but it’s not always the best… Also, check out little restaurants and holes in the wall. Why go to Olive Garden when you could go to a little family-owned restaurant and get authentic Italiantlian? Just think about anything you want to get or do with your significant other for the holiday and see if you can find something local. Etsy.com is also a great place to find handmade, one of a kind items from small businesses around the world if you can’t find something local to you.
4. Plant a Tree
Over 250 million roses are grown for Valentine’s Day. That’s 250 million flowers that are no longer absorbing carbon dioxide and will be thrown into a landfill. If you’re going the flower route consider composting the flowers or even drying them to be used as potpourri and homemade beauty items. Better yet, skip the flowers and plant a tree! What better way to say “I love you” like planting a tree that could be there for the next 100 years. Make sure you plant something native to your area. If you live in the Eastern U.S. I recommend a redbud tree (Cercis canadensis) as they are beautiful natives with pink flowers in the spring and heart-shaped leaves. An indoor plant like a peace lily is also a great option if you don’t want to plant a tree.
5. Create Unique Memories
In such a materialist world, why not opt out of getting each other gifts but go on an adventure instead? Creating a lifelong memory can be greater than getting a gift that no one will remember the following year. Take a yoga class together or go rock climbing. Go to a wine tasting or an observatory. Got to an art museum or go hiking. There are so many things and opportunities that you and your significant other can do together to make memories that will last a lifetime. And if at the end of the night one thing leads to another, you can do that too without impacting the planet.
Have a happy and green Valentine’s Day!