Thinking of someone special this Valentine’s Day? With nearly $15.7 billion spent on the holiday each year, it can be easy to forget just how much “stuff” is produced – gift wrap, chocolate boxes, greeting cards. Yes, it can be overwhelming. Despite that though, there’s no need to forget your good green principles while you’re dreaming of the perfect day. Here’s a quick, simple guide to make this Valentine's safe on both your wallet and the environment.
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Tip #1 Skip the Greeting Card
Save the trees and forget the greeting card. They are a huge waste. Either send an e-card, use cards made from recycled material, make your own, or simply say how you feel to your significant other. And don’t be convinced by big advertisers; the bigger the card doesn’t really show that you love them more. You show that, remember?
Tip #2. Flower Power
Do labor rights seem like an odd thing to consider on Valentine’s Day? Perhaps, but maybe not after hearing this: “Last year, the United States Customs and Border Protection processed 320.8 million cut flower stems from Jan. 1 to Feb. 14, with 66 percent of them trucked in from Colombia and 33 percent from Ecuador.”
On top of the poor labor practice, the transport contributes to the burning of fossil fuels. Instead, buy locally grown, pesticide free flowers. Try your local farmers market or look for flowers that come with a Veriflora certification. The certification verifies both sustainability and fair labor practices. Another good source is Whole Foods, who offers USDA-certified organic roses.
Tip #3. Chocolate? Make it Fair Trade and Organic
Just like the roses, chocolate can have some dark sides to it. As The Atlantic puts it, “Cacao is grown exclusively in equatorial climates, so the raw materials for chocolate come from a limited number of countries.” Most comes from Africa, with only 11 percent from the Americas (and only the central and South Americas are included in that). Needless to say, labor is a big issue here too.
When choosing chocolate, go for the fair trade, organic chocolate in a recyclable box. Better for the environment, better for the people, better for you. (Then again, homemade treats are always an option!)
Tip #4. Minimize the Waste, Make the Gift and Get Creative
Just keep this in mind: minimize waste whenever possible this Valentine’s Day. Ditch the wrapping paper and present your gift ol’ fashioned, arm behind the back style. Likewise, if you do go for things like fresh cut roses or a box of chocolates, just get one.
Alternatively, add little creativity to the holiday. Try making something for your significant other that will really show your affection. Don’t worry about going for the stereotypical paper mache greeting card or handmade necklace. You know what really interests them, so try to make something that relates to that. For example, if he’s a baseball player, consider getting his name stitched in his glove. For guys, if she is a huge fan of music, get tickets to the next show of her favorite band. Whatever it is, make it relatable. A box of chocolate and a rose only goes so far.
May your Valentine's Day be filled with love!