Don’t let your love for your partner get in the way of your love for the planet. With the right eco-conscious planning, Valentine’s Day can be as green as it is red.
In the United States, almost 20,000 floral shops produce nearly $400 million in cut flowers (wholesale value) for Valentine’s Day, estimates the U.S. Census Bureau. Meanwhile, its northern neighbor produces more than 13 million roses for the holiday, reports Statistics Canada. This is a lot of energy, shipping fuel and similar environmental expenditures, to say nothing of the millions of pounds of chocolate, jewelry and other gifts manufactured, shipped and given in Saint Valentine’s honor. This year, express the wide depths of your heart while narrowing your carbon footprint.
1. Ditch the online floral shops. While it may be convenient to click through an online site and have flowers shipped, the packaging and fuel emissions can be an environmental nightmare. Instead, support your local florists — which is nice to the earth and to the economy. It’s estimated that for every $100 spent at locally owned stores, $68 of that is invested back into your local community; online shopping leaves nothing for your town or city.
2. Read the flower labels. Not all roses are the same. Many come from chemical-intensive, mass-manufacturing hot house operations while others rely on extremely cheap labor. Please your partner and appease your conscience with organic and certified fair trade roses. Or, consider skipping roses completely, which avoids the entire issue of greenhouses/importing. Break tradition and show your lover how creative you are by creating a breathtaking bouquet using local, in-season flowers.
3. Use recycled paper. Hallmark estimates that it will send 144 million cards this Valentine’s Day. That’s just one greeting card company! To minimize your environmental impact, look for greeting cards made from recycled paper, make your own recycled cards or commission a local artist to make greeting cards crafted from recycled paper (starving artists need love, too).
4. Hail hemp. If you’re into the whole lingerie-gifting tradition, there are many manufacturers out there who craft naughty undergarments made from non-naughty, sustainable fibers such as bamboo or hemp.
5. Pay attention to the little things. Many small details add up when it comes to minimizing your carbon footprint. This includes using soy candles instead of traditioanl candles, choosing an organic bottle of wine or champagne, and using in-season produce for your special meal.
6. Just do it. One of the best Valentine’s Day gifts you can give your partner is quite eco-friendly. Once you turn off the lights, the only energy you’ll be burning is your own.