Want to really spice things up this Valentine’s Day but are concerned that by pouring on the romance your environmental impact will worsen?
To minimize your carbon footprint, consider some of these alternative gift and date ideas:
Organic Flowers: Make sure if you buy flowers that they are sustainably grown, and certified organic or veriflora. Veriflora is considered the gold standard certification of flora and horticulture sustainability because it uses the Scientific Certification System (SCS) developed by a neutral third party. Learn more at Veriflora.com and check out their list of retailers to find a certified florist near you.
Buy Locally-Grown Flowers: Also, try to avoid shipping flowers, whether across town or across the country. Make the extra effort to pick up and deliver the flowers yourself. If you are in a long-distance relationship, call a florist near the one you love instead of going with a bigger company. Less travel always equals a smaller carbon footprint.
e-Cards: Ever heard the line “Valentine’s Day was created by Hallmark just to sell more cards?” Yeah, me too. Whether that’s true or not, Valentine’s Day does create a serious influx of paper waste. Luckily, most greeting card websites (including Hallmark) now offer free or for-purchase online cards, helping you avoid paper waste while still getting the chance to say “I love you.”
Chocolates: According to Organicconsumers.com, Valentine’s Day is the biggest chocolate consumption day of the year (sorry, Halloween). And unfortunately, over 40 percent of the world’s chocolate comes from the Ivory Coast, where child slavery and farm-worker exploitation are both widespread. So this year, make sure to purchase organic, fair-trade (businesses in developing countries with ethical working conditions and sustainable practices) chocolate. It’s both environmentally friendly and morally acceptable – a definite win-win! I recommend checking out Sweet Earth Chocolates or Theo’s Chocolates, both companies that are committed to higher standards of eco-friendly chocolate and business ethics.
Avoid the Teddy Bear: Unless your loved one is under the age of 10, it just isn’t necessary.
Wrapping: Steer away from those unnecessary gift-wrap ornaments. If you think she won’t mind, minimize the gift wrapping, or take a risk and use the daily comics page instead.
Eco-Friendly Dinner For Two: Do a little research on nearby restaurants and patronize one that serves local organic options. You can go extreme and look up vegetarian/vegan restaurants near you at vegguide.org. Or if you are like me – environmentally conscious yet omnivorous – check out the menu ahead of time for seasonal ingredients and local farmers. Most restaurants gladly feature that information on their websites.
Cook A Special Organic Dinner: They say that the fastest way to a man’s heart is through his stomach. These days, I think it works both ways. Think about a recipe with special meaning and pick up the ingredients at your local organic grocery.
Waste-Free Gifts: Be creative and leave a zero carbon footprint. Last year, I got stuck hovering over my computer in the library all Valentine’s Day, along with hundreds of other students. On a coffee break, I caught the tail end of a romantic gesture when I saw a stressed-out sophomore being serenaded by her boyfriend and his whole a cappella group. Not a single piece of waste and maybe the most thoughtful gift I’ve ever seen.
Recycled Jewelry: Nothing wrong with buying vintage, heritage jewelry. It certainly saves all that energy consumed in mining, refining and manufacturing new jewelry (Green Blizzard – All That Glitters Is Not Gold).
Happy Valentine’s Day!
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