Whether you think Valentine’s Day is a romantic tradition or a kitsch corporate money-making scheme, for the first half of February it’s unavoidable. Valentine’s day is big business, with 145 million cards sold and £261 million spent on flowers for the romantic holiday every year in the UK.
However, with our Valentine’s Day traditions comes a heavy environmental price tag. Cards are by definition single use items destined for dumping. Meanwhile, cut flowers may look beautiful, but they are rarely sustainably grown; chemical pollution from the cut-flower industry is a massive issue with pesticides liberally used for flower growth. Production has been gradually concentrated in equatorial regions with warm climates, meaning the transport emissions involved in a bouquet can be eye-watering.
In this article we hone in on four key polluting areas that you can improve on to make your Valentine’s Day more green. Afterall, why not show your partner you love them whilst also loving the planet?
When it Comes to Cards…
Cards are the big one, and disposable cards bought from chain stores (we won’t mention any names) aren’t doing the environment any favours. A tree can produce 3,000 cards; that may sound like a lot, but with 145 million cards sold in the UK every Valentines, that’s over 48,000 trees.
Ideally, we would love you to send e-cards. A sneaky send to his/her work email address would make for a lovely mid-working day mood-boost.
If you are set on a card, why not make it more personal and craft your own from recyclable materials? Ideally pick up your supplies from a local small business, and look out for the recyclable logo on materials. Be sure to scout out anything you may have laying around the house too that could be used. There are a whole host of adorable DIY ideas to create cards, try here and here for some inspiration or have a search on Pinterest.
Gift Giving Just Got Greener
What do you get your partner for Valentine’s day? Chocolates? Jewellery? A holiday?
Chocolate can be a minefield with its links to deforestation and poor labour practises. Research some sustainable brands or simply buy Fairtrade; we guarantee eco-friendly chocolatiers will have Valentine’s offers, and as luck would have it we have some handy sustainable chocolate brand recommendations here.
When it comes to jewellery, it’s time to wise up about the environmental damage that gold and diamond mining has on the environment. There are many jewellers out there who source sustainable materials and use recycled metals, with a few of our favourites listed in our jewellery recommendations. You won’t regret buying your partner a long lasting piece of jewellery that can be repaired over time – a thoughtful gift that will be as durable as your relationship.
If you’re up for it, you could ditch the material gifts altogether and get your partner a thoughtful experience or membership that you know they’ll love. From axe throwing to skydiving, there is a host of experience day options available; Virgin have some great ones, although its worth also looking for smaller experience day business local to you. If your partner is particularly artsy, a membership to a gallery makes a great gift, or similarly theatre tickets for a drama lover (although perhaps don’t address the card as such…)
Ditch the Flowers
As we said in our intro, cut flowers come with a chemical pollution and travel emission tag our planet can’t afford. Why not get your partner something more long lasting instead?
Houseplants make a much better gift than cut flowers and have a much longer shelf life. Houseplants that are native to the UK have the name ‘temperate broadleaf’ and are the perfect sustainable gift. Treat your partner to Campanula, Chrysanthemums or Jasmine to adorn their windowsill or desk, a lovely living reminder of your special bond.
If you’re feeling green fingered you can always plant something in your garden for your partner. Native wildflowers are great for the bees and take in their natural climate, so that even the most reluctant gardener will see great results.
Meanwhile, what’s more romantic than a tree? Rowan, apple, and cherry trees are all amazing for local pollinator populations and may make your relationship more fruitful as well.
Staycation? Or Just Stay at Home…
Our final gift tip? Ditch the foreign holidays. We know a weekend in Paris or Berlin sounds fabulous but flying emissions do not. Save it for your honeymoon and have a staycation instead! Why not do something in your area you’ve always thought about but never got round to; go to that climbing wall, take a trip to the theatre or even explore an area of your city or town that you don’t usually go to.
Another option is to stay at home and take an online class, watch a film or cook together.
Valentine’s Day is the perfect occasion for baked goods, and handily we’ve got a guide to vegan baking here. You can also get a home wine tasting kit or do a skills building course over zoom.
Happy Valentine’s Day!
We do our best to research and find the most environmentally-friendly companies to recommend at GoEco. However, if you have any suggestions that we might not know of, or disagree with any of our recommendations, please get in contact: firstname.lastname@example.org. We always want to learn more about the companies with the potential to save our future!