This Valentine’s Day, express your love without taking a big toll on the planet. The suggestions below can help you avoid toxic chemicals, support Fair Trade, reduce pollution and waste, and save energy. What’s not to love about that?
Somehow, roses have become the most popular flower people send on Valentine’s Day – even though most commercial roses are grown using heavy-duty pesticides, then transported by jet from one hemisphere to another, leaving a pretty heavy carbon footprint behind. Why not dish up some bulbs instead?
You can force narcissus bulbs to bloom inside, bringing a breath of spring to a gray February day. Just fill a shallow bowl with small pebbles. Place five or six narcissus bulbs on top. The bulbs will begin to grow as soon as they’re watered. In six weeks, they’ll have sprouted beautiful foliage and fragrant blooms that keep Valentine’s Day alive long past February 14.
Or, give a blooming houseplant, like peace lilies. They can be grown in a local greenhouse, and are an excellent choice for improving indoor air quality.
If you must have cut flowers, look for florists whose flowers are certified Veraflora Sustainably Grown, or companies that partner with farmers who use sustainable growing practices, like TheBouqs.
There are many tragic stories about the chocolate industry’s dark side, ranging from children being used as slave laborers to deforestation. If chocolate is a must-have for Valentine’s Day, switch to chocolate produced from Fair Trade producers who don’t force children to work and who grow cacao organically. You have more options than ever before.
Here’s just a partial list of delicious organic chocolate to choose from. Remember, when you buy, look for the official organic seal of approval or read the label carefully. You’ll mostly find chocolate bars, syrups, and sauces, rather than heart-shaped boxes full of individual bites. That’s OK. Create a fun basket of four or five different organic, Fair Trade bars, or a variety of organic chocolate sauces you can add to your favorite organic ice cream. Check out our guide to help you find ethically sourced chocolate.
Is this the year you’re going to give your loved one a gorgeous bracelet or a beautiful ring? Skip the mall and head to vintage stores that sell antique jewelry, or drop by an estate sale to find exquisite settings that get more beautiful with age.
Look for jewelry made by companies like Smart Glass, which crafts stunning pieces out of recycled glass bottles and antique brass. Also, check out Brilliant Earth, which makes jewelry for men and women out of primarily recycled precious metals. They are a certified member of the Responsible Jewelry Council and source their diamonds from ethical and environmentally responsible sources.
Why waste paper when you can send whatever kind of card you want electronically? From funny to romantic, e-cards run the gamut, and you can time them for precise delivery into the recipient’s email box. Many e-card companies offer free cards, but you can upgrade to more personal or special messages at a small cost.
Alternatively, make your own card out of materials you have around the house that mean something to you and to your loved one. For example, have you gone to several concerts or movies together? Cut a heart out of red construction paper and affix the ticket stubs to the front with a personal message that no card company would ever think of.
Valentine’s Day shouldn’t put a dent in your pocketbook or the planet. Don’t drive yourself crazy running around buying expensive presents packed in a lot of wrapping that will just end up in the trash. Instead, give your loved one a donation to his or her favorite charity or environmental nonprofit.
Be aware that some groups, like the American Lung Association and Moms Clean Air Force, are working to reduce air pollution. What’s the connection to the heart? Breathing dirty air actually leads to heart attacks and heart disease. Support a group working to protect air quality, and let your heart beat a little lighter.
Feature image courtesy of Christine Krizsa
Originally published on February 4, 2015, this article was updated in January 2021.