How To Have A Green Valentine’s Day

by heather

Ok, one look at that title and I’d bet the farm that you’re rolling your eyes and groaning. We just got done with Christmas, you’re thinking, why on earth are you covering another holiday already?

Listen, don’t shoot the messenger. I walked into CVS this weekend, and they’re the ones who have already hosed down the store in pink and red confetti. They’re the ones who now have three whole aisles devoted to teddy bears, Valentine cards, and little boxes of chocolate. All this a month early. Trust me, I was rolling my eyes too.

I’ve never been a fan of Valentine’s Day. My opinion is that you should tell your loved ones how much they mean to you all year round instead of waiting for Hallmark to declare that “today’s the day”. But, since I’ve become more eco-conscious I’ve realized that Valentine’s Day is even more wasteful than I used to think. To prove my point, here are some fast facts from the U.S. Census Bureau:

  • Each year, 180 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged in the U.S. And, this number excludes cards exchanged in classrooms between children.
  • 65% of American households typically participate in Valentine’s Day by exchanging cards, going out on a date, or buying a gift such as chocolates, a plush toy, flowers, or jewelry.
  • Over 36 million boxes of chocolate are sold each year.

Just think, for a moment, about all the crap that’s produced for this holiday. The pink teddy bears, the endless greeting cards, the chocolate…and that’s only the tip of the iceburg. If you really want to see piles of Valentine’s Day crap, then head into Wal-Mart or Target in the next few days. Parts of the store looks like they hosed it down with Pepto-Bismal. Who really needs all that junk? Not only is it expensive, but it’s just another way to encourage consumption and send more clutter into our homes. No thanks.

Having An Eco-Friendly Valentine’s Day

So that being said, how can we celebrate Valentine’s Day and do something good for the planet at the same time? I came up with a few ideas…

  • Instead of buying a paper card this year, send an e-card. Or better yet, tell your special someone in person that you care. After all, why let a greeting card speak for your heart?
  • If you’re aiming to buy flowers this year, then start trying to find a local producer right now. Most flowers, especially roses, are shipped to the U.S. from South America, thousands of miles away. This wastes tons of gas and puts boatloads of Co2 into the air. Buying locally-grown flowers means that’s one less bouquet that has to be shipped that far.
  • Want to take your date to dinner? Then think about supporting an organic or vegan restaurant that uses locally-grown produce. Or, think about whipping up an intimate meal at home.
  • If you’re looking for an awesome, eco-friendly gift to give, then let me tell you about one of my favorite companies, Earth Divas. Earth Divas makes fair trade handbags using hemp, recycled silk and organic cotton. And the most amazing part? 100% of their profits go back to the artisans making the bags. Ed, the owner, doesn’t even take a salary. I have several Earth Divas bags by now and they are beautiful and amazing. Check them out. And if you’re looking for a gift for a guy, don’t worry: they have some really cool hemp messenger bags too.
  • What would Valentine’s Day be without a box of chocolate? Well, if you want to have a green Valentine’s Day then go with organic chocolate. Most health food and organic markets carry organic chocolates. And if you can, go with a brand that’s organic and supports Fair Trade, like Sweet Earth Organic Chocolate. Or you can do even more good by purchasing Endangered Species Chocolate. 10% of each sale goes towards protecting animals and their habitat.
  • If you would like to buy a gift but don’t want to show up with a meaningless teddy bear, then why not give a gift certificate for a service, like a massage or holistic facial? Then your gift is doing two things: it makes your sweetie happy and supports a local business.
  • If you’re really splurging this year and want to get jewelry, then go with a jeweler who uses conflict-free diamonds, like Brilliant Earth. They use Canadian diamonds and recycled gold, which means the money from each sale never supports slavery, child labor, or terrorism.
  • Want to buy a book or movie as a gift? Well, look for it used on Half.com or Ebay.com. Buying used is a great way to give life to old things. And, used things don’t consume new resources. I buy all my books and movies through Half.com, and I can say I’ve never had a problem with any of their sellers; they’re awesome.
  • Skip the perfume or cologne this year. Most commercially produced fragrances are really bad for you; they’re full of chemicals that we’d probably all be better off not breathing in. Instead, go with a natural essential oil.
  • If you want to get a really unique gift, then search for something that will do double-duty. Places like Ten Thousand Villages or World of Good are not only socially responsible businesses, but they’re also eco-friendly.

Now, is that a list or what? As you can see, it takes a little more effort to have a green Valentine’s Day, which is why I’m putting this post out now. I know it’s still a month away, but this will give you plenty of time to start planning. If any of you have some cool ideas on other ways to have an eco-friendly Valentine’s Day, please send them in!

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{ 7 comments }

psuklinkie January 12, 2009 at 12:11 pm

Wonderful list! Thanks for sharing all these great tips.
Another great way to celebrate is to check out a “Vagina Monologues” presentation. Many colleges and community theatres participate and all the ticket sales, by contract with the playwright, go toward programs to end violence against women. Find an event near you at the V-day site: http://events.vday.org/search.php

heather January 12, 2009 at 1:14 pm

Psuklinkie,

That’s an awesome suggestion! Another good example of how spending money on something can do double-duty; you’re having a good time, and contributing to a worthy cause.

Thanks so much for sending that in with the link!

Heidi January 12, 2009 at 6:33 pm

You have a great blog 🙂 I nominated you for a lemonade award – details at http://www.littlepeoplewealth.com

heather January 14, 2009 at 8:03 am

Heidi,

Thank you so much for the nomination!

ElizabethG January 14, 2009 at 8:55 am

Hi Heather, thanks for the kind note on my blog (Modern Gal). I love your Valentine’s suggestions.

ElizabethG

creativeconcepts January 16, 2009 at 11:05 am

Not a only a great list but great links too — wonderful post. Another book option I love is PaperbackSwap . . . have sent and received lots of books – great reusing option!

John Hayward February 6, 2010 at 5:23 pm

This article is good to a point, but two items stand out as going well over the proverbial top:

1. “They (Brilliantearth.com) use Canadian diamonds and recycled gold, which means the money from each sale never supports slavery, child labor, or terrorism.”

Most of the gold being fashioned into jewelry today can be labeled
“recycled gold,” so don’t be fooled into purchasing hollow titles.

The aforementioned “Canadian diamonds” are called “conflict-free diamonds.” Even Conflictfreediamonds.org admits on the “learn more” page of their website:

“The majority of diamonds (on the market) are conflict-free – but which ones? Unless a conflict-free diamond has gone through a certification program, it is impossible to know the diamond’s origin.”

Let’s face it — when we buy diamonds, which are hardly everyday purchases, we’re looking for the best possible price; having an unnamed party telling us the lifecycle of the rough stone before cutting, which may or may not be true, to supposedly ease our consciences, is patently absurd. Be on guard for items separated into 2 groups: Ethically/morally safe to buy because we say so, and unethically/immorally unsafe to buy because we say so.

2. “Skip the perfume or cologne this year. Most commercially produced fragrances are really bad for you; they’re full of chemicals that we’d probably all be better off not breathing in. Instead, go with a natural essential oil.”

According to WHOM??? What does “really bad” for you mean? This is stated as fact, yet we’ve never heard of a study or even a single case of anyone, unless allergy related, was harmed in ANY WAY by using perfume or cologne!

Natural essential oils, which are IN most of the perfumes/colognes on the market today, have even MORE of a chance of triggering allergies and asthma, because they’re CONCENTRATED FRAGRANCE!!!

Such untruths stated as matters-of-fact cause me to be very suspicious of the balance of information presented by the writer of this article, named “Heather.”

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