Valentine’s Day Goes Green

I’ll say it straight out: Valentine’s Day is not my favorite holiday. To start with, I hate the color pink. I attribute this to both a tomboy past and the way it reminds me of raw flesh. Secondly, I don’t like heart shapes. For Valentine’s Day I once sent my boyfriend a sketch I had made of an anatomically correct heart, complete with aorta, chambers, and blood vessels galore. It was large. Colored. Surprisingly, he still wanted to marry me. Finally, I am so not a romantic. I don’t do forever. I don’t think giving someone the sexual organs of a plant (i.e. flowers) is particularly sweet. I roll my eyes at romantic cliches. Yup. That kind of girl.

That said, if you do care about Valentine’s Day, there are definitely things you can do to keep it from being a total failure in terms of eco-friendliness. As low impact as writing off Valentine’s Day altogether? Well, no. But not everyone can be a misanthropic Valentine’s Day hater. Here are some ideas for showing your love for your friends and the planet on the 14th.

1. Cards. I remember the huge bag of Valentine’s Day cards I would get every year in elementary school. Some were cute and came in tiny envelopes with pink hearts. Others were ugly and had Batman or Transformers on them. Regardless, they all got tossed within a week. If you have to do cards, you could go for recycled cards or make your own out of scrap paper and materials you already have at home. If you don’t have the time or money, simply swap out some of your paper cards for e-cards. Better yet, why not call the people you love, especially if you haven’t spoken recently?

2. Chocolate.  Does anyone actually think that Russell Stover counts as chocolate? Instead of buying highly processed and heavily packaged chocolate, why not go for delicious locally made chocolates? (Hint: filled chocolates really aren’t supposed to last longer than 2 weeks. If it expires in a year, don’t buy it.) My two local favorites are Dolce Bella (best raspberry truffles ever, made from raspberries she grows herself) and Saratoga Chocolates (ooh! melty-smooth!), but I bet there’s a good chocolatier near you. If not, how about organic or fair trade chocolate? Organic is kinder to the planet and our bodies, and fair trade is kinder to the people who make cacao beans possible.

3. Flowers. See any roses growing near you? No? That’s because roses are dormant in February, so all the bunches of long stem roses you see are either hot-house grown, or (more likely) imported. Imported flowers have often been drenched in pesticides and have certainly had larger carbon footprints than locally grown flowers. If you can’t find local flowers or just can’t give up the roses, consider choosing organic or fair trade blooms — at least to protect your lover and 3rd world workers from up to 1,000 times the pesticides found in conventional produce. I’ve also made my own bouquets out of origami irises, which aren’t difficult to fold.

4. Just say no to stuff. Nothing expresses your love like mass-produced commercial goods…right? It’s actually pretty easy to show the people you love how much you care without buying things. Offer a massage, make a dish or dessert they love, hang up your towel without being nagged. (And do it way more than once a year.) Buying is the easy way out. We’ve all been raised to be consumers, but being green is about getting away from stuff and getting back to the things that matter most: friendships, compassion, experiences.

Did I miss any tips? Leave a comment!

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