Valentine’s Day is nearly here and with it the need to buy holiday cards, spend unholy amounts on presents and plan lavish dates to show your significant other you care. A deeply commercial holiday, Valentine’s Day is inescapable; your local businesses will likely all be adorned with heart-shaped confetti and your friends will be telling you of their plans for the day. What to do to escape the madness or join guilt-free? Simple, have Green Valentine’s Day!
V-Day can be a very wasteful holiday, not only because of the extra trash that’s accumulated, but because of all the non-environmentally-friendly things that are traditionally purchased. To have a Green Valentine’s Day we invite you to rethink the basics of gift-giving and shopping, going for a sustainable alternative instead. For extra points, we’ve gathered Canadian brands to help you achieve your goals with as little effort as possible – we’re cool like that!
Having a Green Valentine’s Day – The Basics:
If you’d like to save some cash, green your day and have a little fun with little to no negative impact on the planet, then…
Try Eco-Conscious Gift Giving
We’ve already devoted an entire post to eco-conscious gift giving but here’s the gist of it: if you’re going to buy something new (instead of getting something recycled or upcycled, or not giving something material at all)make sure that you buy from a local provider, that you get it in a package that you can actually recycle and that it’s a gift that honors your environmental beliefs.
Research the brand before you buy! There’s lots of little guys doing the right thing just waiting to serve you. That previous post includes links to some sustainable Canadian fashion brands and eco-friendly cosmetics – Valentine’s Day go-to gifts!
Have Sustainable Wine
If there’s one thing you can count on, whether you’re spending this most romantic day solo or with company – it’s that there will be wine! Everyone loves a good glass of wine on a cold winter day to warm your limbs and your heart, yet this most precious libation can be produced in the most wasteful of environments. Grape production, depending on the soil, can require between 2.5 gallons to 29 gallons of water per glass of wine. Fortunately you don’t have to stop drinking, but perhaps look at the label.
Wines can be categorized as:
- Organic: Uses “non-synthesized ingredients” resulting in a purer product.
- Biodynamic: Approaches production holistically and naturally.
- Sustainable: Focuses of energy efficient practices that reduce water consumption, mitigating wastefulness in winemaking.
In Canada we have some wonderful sustainable wines in BC so we’ve made the choice simpler for you, but if you’re having imported wine you can rest assured that most California-made wine is sustainable. If you want to learn more about the differences between organic, biodynamic and sustainable wine, see here.
Choose Potted Plants
Giving flowers is a beautiful gesture, but nothing says “I love you” more than a please-make-it-last potted plant. Potted plants have multiple benefits, for starters they last longer, they’re beautiful to look at, can help clean indoor air and above all are more environmentally friendly!
As many as two-thirds of cut flowers come from South America, Europe and Africa by plane, so they have a large environmental impact. Choose potted plants and buy organic or local whenever possible; if you have your heart set on cut flowers, then please take a look at fair-trade flowers, so your purchase can really help people in need and you can have a real green valentine’s day!
Taste Fair-Trade and Organic Chocolate
That creamy seductress that we all know and love, chocolate, has a dark backstory as bitter as a no-milk bar; in some places of the world like Côte d’Ivoire in Ghana, children are kidnapped and forced into labor in cocoa farming. You can put a stop to that by not buying slave-made chocolate, start by reading the label and look for Fair Trade Certifications or the Rainforest Alliance Stamp.
Go for the -Sustainable- Catch
Did you know that around Valentine’s Day seafood sales rise? Not just that, but around February 14 lobsters and oysters are the prefered “aphrodisiac” meal. Loving superstitions aside, considering there’s no actual evidence that they will increase your libido, if you must have seafood to celebrate your special day, may we suggest a Green Valentine’s Day alternative?
Local grown and caught seafood supports well-managed fisheries providing healthy and just as tasty options for you and your partner, whether you dine out or eat at home. Some great choices are: “halibut, ling cod, sole, flounder, Pacific cod and rock-fish” according to this article by the David Suzuki foundation. You’ll be supporting Canadian jobs as well as sustainable fishing.
Just Say No to Balloons
Most balloons are made of either Mylar or Latex, substances that can be recycled but that take one to four years to degrade, even the ones labeled “biodegradable”. Balloons pose a big threat to natural wildlife, especially to birds and sea turtles; given that they take such a long time to degrade and can be easily confused with their natural prey.
If you do buy balloons, do not let them blow away – it may be a pretty sight but it is highly polluting! Instead keep them and try to repurpose them.
Look for Up-cycled Jewelry
Diamonds may be a girl’s best friend but they are some of earth’s worst enemies. Not just because diamond mining is devastating to the environment, but because slavery and violent trade are deeply rooted in the gem’s industry.
If you want to give a piece of jewelry you can be proud of, look for up-cycled options that take ordinary materials and mix them with natural stones to create beautiful and unique pieces that harmed no one. You can browse this etsy list and look for an option that suits you or your mate. The best part? Way more affordable than diamonds.
Use Soy Candles
In case you haven’t heard we’re in the middle of a bee crisis; bee colonies are collapsing worldwide and it is mainly a man-made issue. We can help by lowering our demand of bee-related products and preserving wild habitats. Soy candles are 100% vegetable and not subject to animal testing, they also burn longer and more clearly than paraffin or beeswax candles and their residue is easy to clean up with soap and water.
Whether you’re dreading the date or can’t wait for your valentine to blow you away, we suggest that this year you try to have a Green Valentine’s Day. After all if there’s no one more deserving of our undying love than beautiful, plentiful and all-giving mother earth.