For most of us, Valentine’s Day is devoted to love, but for the environment, Valentine’s Day is bad news. The billions of cards that are sent contribute to deforestation and most end up in landfills.
Did you know that chocolate and flower-growing producers are among the biggest users of pesticides? Fortunately, there are a few ways to reduce the environmental impact of Valentine’s Day without losing the romance and while still having a memorable day.
Here are a few ways to make this Valentine’s Day a sustainable holiday to remember.
Valentine’s cards are a great and easy way to express your feelings to your partner in writing. If you’re a fan of paper cards then this year embrace your creativity and create your own card out of reclaimed paper. If you’re not a crafty person then search out a local artist who makes their own cards from recycled materials.
There are also commercial cards available made from recycled materials so you have no excuse not to purchase an environmentally responsible one.
Alternately, this year, use technology to show your partner how much they mean to you. There are lots of free e-card sites available so search one that you like and send it to your sweetie.
Nothing tells your partner that you’re their Valentine like a bouquet of flowers.
Unfortunately, bouquets of flowers may last only a week or so. Why not give your partner something that will last longer, like a nice herb plant? If you enjoy cooking together, adding home-grown herbs to your meals will make them taste that much better!
If you want to stay with the traditional flower route, visit your local farmers market and see what flowers are in season. You may get a better deal than in flower shops and you’ll be supporting a local grower.
Most people like to enjoy a nice bottle of wine or champagne to create a romantic evening. Research the type of wine you like, and see if the wine is made from organic grapes or at least grown sustainably. What materials are they using for the cork – sustainable material or the evil plastic tops?
Valentine’s Day wouldn’t be complete without the classic box of chocolates. Buy fair trade chocolate this year. You’ll be expressing your love via the world’s best product and helping chocolate pickers receive the best price available for their cocoa beans.
Another idea when buying chocolate is to purchase dark or cacao chocolate for its health benefits. These types of chocolate can help lower blood pressure and cholesterol.
4. Romantic Getaway
Taking off for a romantic weekend getaway is a great way to celebrate and have a weekend of love. There are many small inns and bed and breakfasts that offer eco-friendly products/services and materials. Staying at an inn is a good alternative to staying at a large hotel because larger hotels have a higher carbon footprint. You have the added benefit of enjoying a more intimate setting, while at the same time helping a local business.
If you want to have a true eco-friendly Valentine’s Day, then get outside and enjoy nature. Go skating, skiing, snow-shoeing, or any winter activity that gets you outside to enjoy fresh air and get some exercise. Weather permitting, pack a picnic and enjoy a meal outdoors.
Enjoying the beauty of Mother Nature and reconnecting with nature is a great way to show your love for the environment.
If you’re a chef, consider making your partner a special romantic meal this year using organic food ingredients. Head down to your local farmers market and see what foods are in season and available – some great winter foods include, lettuce, broccoli, carrots and much more. You have the added benefit of controlling what goes into your meal.
If you opt for eating in a restaurant, inquire if the restaurant uses organic products in preparing the meal or visit an organic restaurant.
This year, don’t buy the traditional teddy bear. Be a little more creative and search out some eco-friendly gifts. If you’re interested in jewellery, then select diamond rings/earrings/bracelets that were made using fairly traded diamonds. Another jewellery suggestion is pieces made from recycled items or a beautiful vintage piece to complement your partner’s style.
The best Valentine’s gift you can give doesn’t require you to generate any waste, just tell your partner three special words – “I love you.” After all, Valentine’s Day is about celebrating love so show your partner you care by telling them how you feel.
Editor’s Note: This post was originally published in February 2012 and has been updated for freshness, accuracy, and comprehensiveness.