This Valentine’s Day, show some love for the Earth!
Each year, around one billion Valentine’s Day cards are sent, making it the second biggest card-exchanging holiday, after Christmas. Most of these cards are not recyclable, as they’re often covered in glitter or plastic, meaning they typically end up in the landfill, where they can take up to 500 years to decompose.
Many of the other gifts exchanged on Valentine’s Day, such as teddy bears, balloons, and other decorations, also end up getting discarded. Heart-shaped chocolate boxes are laden with plastic packaging.
Excess waste isn’t romantic. Climate change isn’t sexy.
This Valentine’s Day, think outside the chocolate box! Consider ditching excess plastic and unnecessary physical gifts and get creative with DIY low-waste gifts. Or, gift your partner, friends, (or even yourself!) with experiences, instead. These types of gifts tend to be much cheaper and better for the environment, not to mention that they’re generally more meaningful and memorable, too!
Ditch the wrapping paper
First and foremost, it’s time to get rid of wrapping paper for all holidays and events – Christmas, birthdays, weddings…it’s unnecessary and excessively wasteful. Wrapping paper is typically not recyclable, as it’s often laminated, and then ends up in landfills.
Instead of purchasing wrapping paper, consider wrapping gifts in old newspapers or brown paper, which are both recyclable. Instead of tape, natural string is a great reusable alternative that adds a nice romantic rustic aesthetic, too.
You could even wrap a gift in another gift! For instance, if you plan to gift your partner with a scarf, blanket, or clothing, you could use these to ‘wrap’ another present! Two birds, one stone.
Make your own card
Instead of purchasing costly, wasteful, and often impersonal Valentine’s Day cards, get crafty and make your own card! If your drawing or painting skills aren’t the best, try creating a collage with clippings from old newspapers and magazines. Even if you’re not the best artist, the act of taking the time to create something from scratch goes a long way, and it’ll be more likely that it won’t get thrown out a few weeks later.
A good old fashioned love letter is also a great way to go. Minimal waste, peak romance!
Some of the best nights are the ones where you don’t even leave the house. Put on a classic film, light some candles, play a board game, pour some wine, relax, and enjoy each other’s company. It’s as simple as that.
To set the mood, check out the KinPark Date Night Kit, which includes two rolled beeswax candles, chocolate bark, and bath salts made with herbs grown at KinPark. You can find this on Cow-Op or at reFRESH Marketplace!
Cook a romantic food waste-free dinner
Did you know that 58% of food produced in Canada is lost or wasted? There are tons of ways you can combat food waste and save money while cooking a delicious meal.
For one, you can make soup broth or risotto from frozen veggie scraps or bones. Instead of tossing out broccoli stems, slice them up and toss them in a salad to add some extra crunch. Grate your lemons and oranges to add some extra zesty flavours to romantic desserts, such as lemon pound cake or dark chocolate orange bark.
Or, you could stop by reFRESH Marketplace and purchase delicious low-cost produce that we have recovered from grocery stores.
Go outside and enjoy nature
There are tons of opportunities for a romantic date outdoors – yes, even in February! Go for a hike, wander through Cathedral Grove. Or, bundle up, pack a picnic, and go stargazing.
The great romantic poets were spot on when they wrote about the powerful effects nature can have on people. There’s nothing more romantic than experiencing the profound natural beauty of the great outdoors together – plus, it’s free!
Ditch the bouquet
Flowers are undeniably a Valentine’s Day staple. But many of the bouquets sold in stores include flowers that have been imported from across the world and loaded with pesticides, herbicides, and fertilizers that pollute the groundwater. The cut flower industry is also surprisingly high in emissions, with estimates up to 3kg CO2 per flower, not to mention the fact that they’re typically wrapped in excessive plastic in stores.
Instead, consider getting your partner a houseplant, which will last way longer than flowers. Or, consider assembling your own bouquet of sorts from collecting small fallen twigs and branches from trees. If you look hard enough, you may also be able to find some flowers in your area that bloom in the winter, such as winter heathers, sowbread, and camellias.
Buy local chocolate
Instead of purchasing plastic-laden chocolate hearts from major supermarket brands, consider purchasing from local, ethically sourced, and eco-friendly chocolatiers. Denman Island Chocolate donates much of their proceeds to environmental conservation organizations and they have a wide selection of Valentine’s Day packs. Sirene Chocolate, which is based in Victoria, also sells delicious ethically sourced chocolate.
Buy gifts from local vendors
If you do opt to purchase a physical gift for Valentine’s Day, consider buying from small local vendors and artists instead of buying from major stores and supermarkets.
Here is a list of local Indigenous artists and small businesses that sell a range of art, jewelry, and more that would make excellent Valentine’s Day gifts:
- Culture Shock Gallery: Jewelry, clothing, books, and accessories based out of Alert Bay
- Cedar House Gallery: Gits, carvings, drums, and jewelry based out of Ucluelet
- West Coast Wildflowers: Household/lifestyle items, clothing, and gifts based out of Campbell River
- Totem Design House: Home decor, jewelry, art, and wellness items based out of Courtenay
- Ay Lelum: High-end clothing and other Coast Salish-designed garments based out of Nanaimo
- Sisters Sage: Soaps and self-care products based out of Vancouver
- Crowfoot Collective: gifts, jewelry, clothing, and more in Cowichan Bay
Having an eco-friendly and memorable Valentine’s Day is easy! All it takes is a bit of creativity and thoughtfulness. By following these tips and incorporating sustainability practices into your everyday life, you can reduce your footprint drastically.