Earth911 is honoring the 52 years of Earth Day with 52 Actions for the Earth. Each week through Earth Day 2023, we will share an action you can take to invest in the Earth and make your own life more sustainable. Valentine’s Day is a minor holiday, but it has a major environmental impact. This week, you can invest in the Earth by greening your Valentine’s Day.
Action: Green Your Valentine’s Day
Valentine’s Day traditions are pretty wasteful. Some 145 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged each year, mostly made from virgin paper and destined straight for the recycle bin. Those bouquets of roses are grown in fields bathed in chemicals before flowers are shipped long distances in refrigerated containers. Mining for materials to make jewelry has tremendous ecological and human impacts. Romantic, expensive restaurant meals contribute to climate change and food waste. Chocolate farming hurts workers and the environment. Even most lingerie falls into the “wear once” wastefulness of fast fashion. But there are more sustainable ways to approach Valentine’s Day, even if you want to keep some of these traditions.
A Greener Valentine
It’s not hard to find cards made from 100% recycled materials, and you can even combine your card and flowers with greeting cards embedded with wildflower seeds. Or you can get creative with a homemade card. If your artistic skills aren’t up to the task, take a different tack and offer your loved one a 3D message with upcycled hearts.
Carbon emissions associated with cut-flower production can be as high as 3 kg of CO2 per flower. Instead of flowers, why not give your Valentine a tree? If you have a place to plant it, you can watch your tree grow through the years along with your love for each other. But even if you don’t have space, supporting reforestation on your beloved’s behalf is a beautiful gesture. If only flowers will do, look for a local, organic “slow flower” grower or snip your own bouquet from the garden.
It is possible to find ethical jewelry from artisanal mines or repurposed materials, and it’s often more affordable than what you find at the regular jewelry stores. If you’re planning to pop the question, consider a lab-grown diamond or even one made from captured carbon to make the right kind of impact.
Instead of spending big bucks on expensive – and destructive – dinners of steak or lobster, spend the extra cash on organic ingredients and make your Valentine a homemade organic, vegetarian meal. If your cooking won’t win anyone’s heart, at least look for a restaurant that serves local, organic food – or even invasive species – and uses sustainable packaging for leftovers.
Most chocolate produces more climate emissions than pork or poultry and uses child labor. If you can’t imagine a Valentine’s Day without it, use Green America’s chocolate scorecard to find a treat for your sweet that won’t break hearts or the planet.
Sustainable Sexy Times
You can keep fast fashion out of your bedroom and still look racy with sustainable lingerie brands. But the most sustainable clothing is your birthday suit. You can’t wear it many places, but it’s just right for Valentine’s Day. And if it’s good vibes you’re after, there are more sustainable versions of those too.