13 February 2022 4 min read
Valentine's Day may have a bit of a bad rap these days, especially when it comes to waste consumerism and sustainability. And, while those criticisms are certainly justified, when it comes down to it, Valentine’s is about celebrating love. Whether that’s romantic love, or love between family and friends. In which case, we’re here for it.
So, how can we celebrate February 14th in a way that’s less wasteful and more sustainable?
If you’re headed out for a romantic meal, book a table at a local, independent restaurant. Not only does this help the economy, but local eateries are more likely to use locally sourced ingredients.
Or, perhaps you’re planning a romantic night in, with a candlelit dinner for two. You can whip up a delicious meal, using ingredients that are currently in season for a more sustainable fare. Beetroot, parsnips and pears are just a few of the fruits and vegetables currently in season in the UK.
If you’re looking to make your meal even more eco friendly, go plant based. Find some tasty plant based recipes for your Valentine’s dinner at Clean Green Simple or on BBC Good Food.
And to pair with your meal? You can find a range of sustainable wines at your local supermarket. Just check for a sustainability scheme logo on the bottle (different countries have different schemes).
Cut flowers, while lovely, are not very sustainable. They ultimately die and often have to be flown in from far away, with many having been treated with insecticides. Not necessarily the metaphor you want for your relationship either. Instead of a bouquet destined to wither, why not gift a plant? Something hardy that will endure, such as a succulent. Or, why not spend some time together tending your garden? A romantic activity that you’ll be reminded of when those flowers bloom later in the year. February is a good time to plant sweet peas or lily bulbs. Better yet, plant a tree.
Another V-day staple is the box of chocolates. Sadly, the cacao industry has some serious problems, with wide-scale economic inequality, forced labour and deforestation to name a few. Make sure if you’re buying chocolate, that it’s Fairtrade, so that farmers receive fair pay and ethical treatment. The Food Empowerment Project website has a list of chocolate manufacturers who supply vegan, ethically-sourced chocolate, which is a great place to start.
And what about the card? Each year we exchange over 1 billion cards. A large chunk of these are laminated in plastic or covered in glitter, making them non-recyclable. If you’re giving a card, why not make one yourself or find one that can be recycled? If you can buy one from an independent small business, even better.
Did you know that one tree can provide enough paper for 300 cards? So, for 1 billion cards, that’s 300,000 trees cut down each year.
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Does anyone really want an oversized stuffed teddy bear clutching a plush heart sitting on their shelf for years to come? As a conscious consumer, consider buying them something they will truly love and cherish for a long time. Or maybe something you know they actually need, rather than something that will get thrown away. You could also buy something secondhand or that’s been recycled rather than something brand new.
If you’re buying jewellery as a Valentine’s gift, consider where the metal or stones have been sourced from. Gemstone and precious metal mining is renowned for being an unsustainable practice, known for contributing to environmental destruction and many human rights abuses.
With diamonds for example, it’s extremely difficult to prove the one you’re buying has been ethically sourced, no matter what the description says. The only way to be sure the stone you’re buying this Valentines is truly ethical, is to opt for lab-grown instead of earth mined. Lab-grown gemstones are ‘real’ gemstones, with the same chemical, physical and optical properties as mined stones. They’re also typically less expensive, meaning you’ll have money left over for that Valentines dinner, too. You can shop sustainable jewellery right here, at illi.
Instead of buying gifts, many couples are choosing instead to gift one another experiences, making memories that will last longer than a bunch of flowers or a box of chocolates. This is a great way to show love without creating unnecessary waste.
Instead of jetting off on a weekend trip abroad, lower your carbon footprint and instead enjoy a staycation, or visit somewhere more local. You’ll be pleasantly surprised at the things you’ll discover just a short journey from where you live.
You might choose to visit a local art gallery and support some local artists. Or take in a show at your local theatre. Not only will you have a great time doing something a bit different, but you’ll also make someone else’s day by supporting their craft.
Taking a class together, like dancing, painting or cooking is a great gift alternative. The perfect couples activity, plus a chance to make memories together that you can look back on fondly.
Of course, it doesn’t just have to be about being in a couple. You can be your own valentine, too, and show yourself some love!
This Valentines, let’s spend less time and money focusing on consumerism, and more on celebrating love in a way that’s responsible to the planet and to others. Surely, that’s what love is all about. Being kind to one another and ourselves.
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