Valentine’s Day is here and we can feel the love. On average, total spending for the holiday surpasses $18.2 billion each year. But, all the great stuff often comes at an expense for our environment. It’s estimated that over 1 billion cards are given out on this day––and this is only second to Christmas. The bad part? Although they’re often beautiful, fancy, and sparkly, most of these cards are not recyclable. Not to mention, other items such as balloons, wrapping paper, bags, etc. can bring about more waste. And, many of these ornaments make it hard to toss these items in a recycling bin.
Valentine’s Day is the best time of year to show those who matter to you just how much you care. So how can you do this in the most sustainable, eco-friendly way?
SaltyLama’s got you covered. Here are 9 ideas for an eco-conscious Valentine’s Day. Let’s dive in.
1. Buy sustainable jewelry.
For romantic lovers who like to splurge on their SOs with chic, shiny things, you’ve got options. You can start by buying from a company that practices safe and responsible mining efforts. Miners are a vital necessity and their safety often gets neglected while they simply do their job. Consider buying jewelry from a company that makes it a priority for their workers to have the proper protective equipment while working. Also, most jewelry companies use harsh chemicals that emit toxic waste back into the environment during production. Although often difficult to do, try finding a company that is transparent, ethical and upfront about their manufacturing methods. This attempt may feel futile, but you’d be surprised how far this effort could go.
2. Buy eco-friendly, fair trade chocolate.
$1.7 billion is spent on chocolates and candy alone on Valentine’s Day. What’s worse is that most of the packaging for this candy comes in single-use, plastic containers. One way to combat this is to make your own chocolate. The good news? You know exactly where it comes from. Also, you can make an effort to buy fair trade chocolate. But... what is that? Well, it all traces back to the source. Fair trade chocolate is made with cacao beans from farmers who are paid a fair wage for their crops as opposed to the low prices that are set by the traditional market. This standard alone makes it better––and sweeter––for everyone involved.
3. Buy a recyclable card, or... make your own.
Most studies conclude that about a billion Valentine’s Day cards are bought and given away each year. But, the day after Valentine’s Day? They usually end up in the trash. Most of these cards also come in single-use plastic wrap that only contributes to the global plastic waste tally. It’s hard to imagine that something so harmless and heartfelt has such a profound impact on the place that we call home. But it happens. To soften the environmental blow, a small but helpful thing to do would be to make your own cards or choose to buy glitter-free cards that can actually be recycled once the occasion has passed. Also, seed paper cards––biodegradable eco-paper that is embedded with plant seeds––are a beautiful way to wrap two gifts in one. When the paper is planted in a pot of soil, the seeds grow into plants or flowers. All you have to do is watch it grow! How’s that for the gift that keeps on giving growing?
4. Natural candles!
There’s environmental air pollution, and then there’s indoor air pollution. What contributes to the latter? More often than not: conventional scented candles. While most of them do smell good, they release toxins into the air when burned. Most traditional candles are made with paraffin wax which releases extremely toxic chemicals––i.e., benzene and toluene––when burned. What’s worse is that both of these are known carcinogens.
When this happens indoors, these fumes have nowhere to escape––making it worse for those living in households where they’re breathing in the fumes. As an alternative, you can try natural candles that are made from healthier substances such as coconut wax or beeswax.
Check out this handy list of candles that won’t pollute your home.
5. Houseplants over flowers––specifically, succulents.
Who doesn’t love a new houseplant? Flowers are great, but let's face it: they don’t live very long. Houseplants typically last longer and require great care and attention. Gifting plants could signify a deeper symbol of affection or love for the other person. This could also make the receiver feel like you trust and believe in their ability to take care of them. Plus, they’re great for absorbing carbon dioxide and converting it into oxygen––so they can literally be like a breath of fresh air for the home.
If you’re looking for something special, try succulents. These are plants that contain water inside their leaves. There are some succulents that have proven to be quite healing. The aloe vera plant, for example, is one whose liquid has been known to heal bruises or scratches by rubbing some of the substance over the affected area. It’s best to do your research on living plants and pick one that you feel best represents your relationship and feelings for the other person. There are plenty to choose from!
6. Buy locally sourced flowers.
We’ll admit it: flowers are sweet. They’re also the golden standard when it comes to gifts for this special day. So if you’re certain about buying flowers for that special someone, it’s still possible to go about it in an eco-friendly way. Most of the packaging that flowers are sold in are, you guessed it: wrapped in plastic. This also results in tons of carbon emissions that could otherwise be avoided. How so? Buy local (if you’re able). Not only will you be minimizing the world’s footprint of pollution and harmful emissions, you’re also supporting your community’s local farmers and gardeners who put forth the effort to harvest these beauties.
7. Gift a reusable water bottle or container.
Got a hiker or a gym buddy to shop for? A reusable water bottle could be just what they need. If you’re a part of the “zero-waste” movement, this is a healthy alternative to plastic bottles. Try to find one that is BPA-free and devoid of any harsh chemicals in the bottle that could be harmful to ingest.
8. Stay in and chill –together.
With or without Netflix, that is. It’s purely up to you. But you’d be surprised to discover just how much harm you’re saving the environment by opting for a night in rather than one out on the town. Just think: no carbon emissions from the car you use to get to your destination(s); no hot kitchen in the back of a restaurant making recipes with equipment and ingredients that could be coming from anywhere; no animals harmed; no paper napkins or plastic straws; no wasted time spent getting dolled up (well, that part could actually be fun). The list goes on. Technically, you’re not exactly saving the world, but it’s definitely a new perspective worth considering.
9. Couple’s massage anyone?
Not really a night in, but still... a night together. You could make an effort to find a massage parlor that specializes in using natural and sustainable oils and other products for their customers. It’s all hands to skin; no harm done.
Whether you’re loving or simply living this Valentine’s Day, there are plenty of ways to stay conscious about the type of impact your actions have on the environment. When the future of our planet is involved, no act is too small. Here at SaltyLama, we like to think that a little goes a long way.