If Facebook forced me to define my relationship with Valentine’s Day, I’d have to select “it’s complicated.” On one hand, it’s a good excuse to go on a sugar-high-fueled glittery-pink-heart-shaped spree of sharing the love.
On the other hand, Valentine’s Day has become a horribly shopping-driven holiday that encourages us to commodify our relationships and evaluate how much we’re loved by how much someone spends on us. Not to mention that it creates a lot of trash from wasteful packaging and cards that may not even make it to the recycling bin.
So, to reconcile these two impulses, I’m offering this list of ways to share the love with everyone you adore without hating on the environment.
1. Make an edible Valentine
© Margaret Badore
Vegan treats will sweeten the day without the waste–since they’ll definitely be devoured. Consider homemade Sweetheart sugar cookies or chocolate cupcakes with strawberry filling.
2. Avoid e-waste cards
That singing card might be charming, but e-waste is less cute.
3. Buy fair-trade and rainforest friendly chocolate
If you’re single or not, this day will involved some sort of chocolate for many people, but cocoa farming is associated with some serious ethical and environmental problems. That’s why it’s important to stick with fair trade chocolate.
4. Craft a recycled Valentine
An old-fashioned homemade Valentine can be way more meaningful than something you find in a store. Consider turning scrap paper, pressed flowers, or fabric scraps into cool, handmade cards and tokens of affection, like these cute cardboard hearts from the Five and One blog.
5. Shop your closet
That scarf you’ve never worn? That book you’re not going to re-read? Consider re-gifting. Or check out Gifteng, a site that helps you give and receive in your area.
6. Think local
If you’re going to do some gift shopping or eating out, consider supporting a local business instead of a big chain. You can also look for locally made products. For example, I recently discovered Bixby chocolate, made here in New York state with ethical cocoa.
7. Look for organic flowers
If flowers are a must, look for organically grown options because cut flowers can be particularly drenched in toxic pesticides. If you’re not sure about your local florist, you can also order online from Organic Bouquet.
8. Consider a potted plant
Even better than cut flowers, why not give a plant that will last longer than a week? Here are recommendations for houseplants that don’t need much water.
9. Choose sustainable wine
When it comes to picking a wine, look for the organic label or the Rainforest Alliance seal. Learn more about eco-friendly wines here.
10. Select ethical jewelry
© The Nozomi ProjectI love jewelry that comes with a beautiful story. If jewelry is the only way to delight your beloved, consider browsing Helpsy’s selection or supporting the Nozomi Project.
11. Send the perfect .GIF
It definitely won’t end up in the waste bin.
12. Be a green lover
You may want to opt for vegan protection, to keep things smooth with organic ingredients, to get good vibes without phthalates or have fun with plastic-free play.
Not only does it feel good, it’s good for your health.
14. Do something extra nice.
Maybe it’s making dinner for your mom or maybe it’s taking out the compost for your roommate. Maybe it’s just calling that friend you haven’t heard from in a long time. I’m sure you can think of something nice to do for the people you care about, and that’s what this day should really be all about.