Valentine’s Day can evoke a range of emotions for people, depending on your relationships status and how you like to celebrate. It’s also a day that can have a big impact on the environment. Many typical ways to show affection, such as chocolates, flowers, or a night out on the town, may not align with your eco-values.
The National Retail Federation estimates that the average person spends approximately $186 on gifts such as candy, flowers, jewelry, greeting cards, and gift cards, with total spending on significant others expected to reach a record $14.2 billion in 2024. Consumer spending overall in 2024 was expected to hit a total of $25.8 billion for Valentine’s Day, according to the NRF, with 62 percent of consumers ages 25-34 planning to celebrate the occasion, more than any other age group. More than 145 million valentines get sent each year, according to Hallmark.
While all these sentiments are sweet, these cards and gifts can add up to a lot of waste.
So check out all of these ways to take traditional love tokens and make them environmentally friendly. By greening your gifts this year, you may even become more appealing to your partner. According to one survey, more than 69 percent of Americans consider eco-mindedness to be an attractive quality in a partner.
When it comes to gifts that come wrapped in packages or placed into vases, skip the excess packaging and look for organic, sustainable options.
Roses and flowers abound in February, but most US bouquets are shipped from far away places such as Ecuador and China, according to Local Harvest. All of that shipping has a large environmental impact. Emissions from the global shipping industry make up 3 percent of the world’s total greenhouse gas emissions. In addition, many large, industrial flower farms tend to use pesticides exposing both farmers and the environment to excess toxins.
Just as you might be more conscious about your food choices, get to know how your flowers are farmed, and choose organic and local whenever possible. Even if you are ordering online, look for greener options to sustainably buy flowers online, such as The Bouqs—an online company that delivers fresh flowers direct from sustainable farms.
When it comes to the sweet stuff like candy and chocolate, you can find vegan and raw options, along with fair-trade, organic, and locally made sweets. Look for labels that let you know how the chocolate was sourced and prepared, or use this list of what chocolate to choose and what to avoid from Rainforest Relief. For handcrafted treats from the Hudson Valley that are ethically sourced, check out Lagusta's Luscious in New Paltz. Their boldly flavored artisanal chocolates "combine a deep commitment to social justice, environmentalism, and veganism." Family-owned candy company such as Krause's Chocolates, with locations in Saugerties, New Paltz, and Rhinebeck, uses time-honored recipes and hand-dipping techniques for its 50 varieties of chocolates and candy treats.
For the ultimate eco-date, plan a day or night at an eco-friendly spa so you can be gentle on the planet and your body. Green spas provide an array of eco-benefits like environmentally friendly or organic skin care products, wellness programs, and rejuvenating treatments to help you relax and connect with your love. Find one near you at spafinder.com.
For a budget friendly option, create a spa night at home. Start by lighting eco-candles to avoid chemical scents and lead-based wicks that could release toxins into your home. Look for alternative chemical-free soy candles made with essential oils and lead-free cotton wicks. Hudson Valley Skin Care, with its lab facility in Pleasant Valley, sells its products in retail stores throughout the Hudson Valley and online. The woman-owned business offers a line of soy candles and locally sourced skin care products that are freshly made and not tested on animals. Find your favorite organic soaps there and fill your bath. You can even sip an organic champagne.
If you're feeling creative, you can make your own cosmetics using unadulterated, organic, and, when possible, locally grown ingredients. Dina Falconi, a clinical herbalist and author with a strong focus on food activism and nutritional healing, shares three recipe templates in this video that are the basis for the many moisturizing creams, aromatherapy oils, and salve recipes found in her book Earthly Bodies & Heavenly Hair.
If you want to go out to dinner, find a spot that is certified green by the Green Restaurant Association, which looks at many aspects of the restaurant including water efficiency, waste reduction, sustainable food and furnishings, disposables, and more. Or look for a menu featuring local, organic dishes.
If you’re celebrating Valentine’s Day without a partner, don’t spend the holiday alone or inside. If you're a nature lover and enjoy the great outdoors, finding a partner that shares the same interest is the first step in developing a lasting relationship. So think of spending more time at some of your favorite outdoor locations, such as your local farmers market, some of which are open year-round. Or join an outdoor club to go hiking or skiing for the weekend.
However you choose to celebrate (even if you opt to forget the whole day), remember to consciously consider the impact of your giving. Remember that one of the best gifts you can give is telling the people you love how much you care.