How to love the planet this Valentine’s Day

5 Tips for a more sustainable Valentine’s Day

Valentine’s Day is just around the corner, so the goal of this week’s #GreenCaptain column is to highlight classic Valentine’s Day traditions that can easily be more sustainable this year. 

Reduce single-use waste: Buying gifts are highlights of any holiday, but the ones we choose for our loved ones can send an important message and also have less impact on our natural resources if we take a little extra time to think before we buy. 

Avoid excessive plastic wrapping and individually-wrapped candies, and look for recyclable or reusable wrapping options like paper bags and reusable gift boxes.

Buy ethically-sourced chocolate: Chocolate is a classic Valentine’s Day tradition, and everyone loves receiving that heart-shaped box on Feb. 14, but where our chocolate comes from is important to think about. The cocoa industry in African countries are often the source of many unfair labor industries with unfair wages and child labor, as well as large-scale deforestation. Look for Rainforest Alliance and Fair Trade certifications on your chocolates this year.

Opt for locally-sourced flowers: Flowers are also important to address, as everyone looks forward to giving or receiving beautiful bouquets this time of year. Did you know that there is an alarming amount of pesticide and fertilizer use involved in the global “fast flower” industry? In order to meet demands for flower production, fertilizers and pesticides are used to grow nonnative flowers globally in a speedy manner. This year, I would advise checking out local florists and finding locally — and sustainably — grown flowers that also benefit our native pollinators.

Try a more sustainable romantic dinner: Whether you decide to cook a romantic meal for your valentine or take them out to their favorite restaurant, making environmentally and socially conscious food choices is always an easy way to reduce your environmental impact. Locally-sourced, organic and plant-based foods are all great options that come with a much lower carbon footprint than others. 

Buy useful, long-lasting gifts: Buying small, cute gifts for a valentine is another tradition that can become more sustainable. Personally, when buying someone a gift, I always try to think about the usefulness and longevity of the gift by asking myself, “How long will they have this gift for?” or “How will they actually use it?” 

Gifts with sentimental value like framed pictures, mementos and books are gifts that I have found people are likely to keep for a longer time, which indirectly reduces the impacts associated with waste and production of goods.

~James Duffy, Staff Writer~

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