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5 Sustainable Valentine’s Day Ideas

5 Sustainable Valentine’s Day Ideas

Although it is a holiday with historical roots, the modern celebrations of Valentine’s Day have unfortunately become quite commercial. Between the candies, cards, collectibles, and all of the packaging needed to wrap and ship these goods, Valentine’s Day festivities generate more carbon emissions than driving around the world 3,993 times (source: Waste360). Fortunately, there are several easy swaps and adjustments you can make to lower your Valentine’s-related carbon footprint. Here are 5 ideas for a sustainable Valentine’s Day: 

  1. Celebrate with Locally or Sustainably Sourced Bubbly 
  • No matter how you’re spending Valentine’s Day, nothing quite marks the celebration like popping open a bottle of bubbly! This year, why not make it even better by opting for some spirits that are a little more planet-friendly? If you live near a winery or a vineyard, pay them a visit and check out what options they have. Doing so is not only the more sustainable and environmentally conscious choice (cuts back on emissions required to ship champagne in from overseas), but it also lets you connect with and support a local business! If you can’t get to a winery in time for the holiday, don’t fret! There are still plenty of sustainable wine and alcohol brands that are available at most grocery and liquor stores. Look for brands that have water-reduction policies, package their products in recycled glass bottles, or are CarbonNeutral certified. 
  1. Eat Fair Trade Chocolate
  • After Halloween, Valentine’s Day is one of the most candy-centric holidays. And the candy of choice? Chocolate. To make your Valentine’s Day indulgences more sustainable, look for chocolates that are either plastic-free and only packaged in a recyclable tin or foil, or chocolates that are fair trade certified (bonus points for purchasing chocolate that’s both!). Why fair trade? You may not know this, but a number of factors actually threaten the production of chocolate because the elements required to grow cacao (e.g., geography, temperature, etc.) are not only very specific, they are also being altered and thrown off by climate change. But, have no fear, because the best thing we can do to preserve this sweet treat is to seek out fair trade bars of chocolate. Fair trade certified chocolate is not only produced with more sustainable agricultural methods, it also supports ethical wages and working conditions for the farmers and laborers growing the crops (source: Treehugger). 
  1. Give Handmade Cards
  • This year, skip the Hallmark aisle and give out cards that are made by hand! Everyone appreciates the personal touch, and being able to channel your creative efforts into beautiful holiday cards for the special people in your life is so rewarding. You can make some really unique and sustainable cards by reusing items found around your house. If you’ve already acquired things like ribbons, stickers, or buttons, you can use them to make a custom card for each person. You could even repurpose old Valentine’s Day cards into something new! Making cards from scratch (especially with creatively reused items) is also a great option if your child will be celebrating the holiday by passing out Valentines at their school. Helping them cut out and decorate cards for all of the other kiddos in their class will not only make a great family activity, it will also cut down on the cost of buying the cookie-cutter style Valentines from the store. 
  1. Shop at a Secondhand Store or Clothing Swap
  • If you’re on the hunt for a new outfit for Valentine’s Day, don’t head to the nearest mall . . . Instead, check out the options available at your local secondhand store! Vintage shops can sometimes take a bit of digging, but they usually have some pretty great finds, and scoring the perfect outfit in just the right size is one of the most satisfying feelings! If vintage and/or thrift shopping isn’t your thing, try instead to get some of your friends together for a clothing swap. It’s a fun, sustainable, and money saving alternative that also gives you the chance to chat and connect with people you love. What could be better? 
  1. Explore Local Flower Options
  • Next to chocolate, the flower industry also experiences a major boom for the Valentine’s Day holiday. And similar to champagne, most flowers that are available for purchase in stores have been shipped from overseas. Flowers are such a sentimental and thoughtful gift, why not make this present even more special by making it eco-friendly and buying the flowers locally? Most farmers markets have at least one floral vendor that sells local flowers, plants, and other greenery. Plan ahead for the holiday by making a trip to your neighborhood market to see what the native flower options are. Or, better yet, opt for one of the living plants and gift that instead! While beautiful, cut flowers do have a shelf life. Living plants, like a nice seasonal orchid or unique succulent, can continue to grow and bloom long after the holiday is over, making a wonderful memento for years to come. 
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