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 like 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 more than $130 on gifts like candy, flowers, jewelry, and even gift cards. 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 75 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 U.S. bouquets are shipped from far away places like Ecuador and China, according to Local Harvest. All of that shipping has a large environmental impact. Emissions from the global shipping industry make up 2.5 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 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, 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, check out Lulu’s Chocolate made with raw, organic ingredients and wrapped in eco-friendly packaging, or find a small candy company like Liddabit Sweets that specializes in handmade candy bars, caramels, lollipops and more without any artificial flavors or preservatives.
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. The company Pacifica recycles and uses post-consumer materials in every box and aims to use zero product-manufacturing waste in their factory. Then, find your favorite organic soaps and fill your bath. You can even sip an organic champagne.
If your sweetie feels loved when you clean the house, why not give all of your cleaning products an eco-makeover? Cleaning products can present several health and environmental concerns because they may contain chemicals associated with eye, skin, or respiratory irritation, or other human health issues, according to the EPA. You can easily find a recipe online for making your own cleaning products with more natural ingredients. Buy all the ingredients and make them together, or go on an eco-cleaning products shopping spree and surprise your partner with a squeaky clean house.
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. One survey found that 58 percent of people said they’d prefer to meet someone special outside. So think of spending more time at some of your favorite outdoor locations, like your local farmers’ market. 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.
© 2014 Omega Institute for Holistic Studies