By Anne B
Happy February, Ramblers! I can't believe January went by so freaking fast, can you all? Now, I'm gonna be honest, February isn't my favorite month: it's cold, icy, often gloomy, and, of course, it's the month of Love. Now, that might be great for all you lovey-doveys out there, but when you're as single as me, it can be hard to remember that there are different kinds of love out there and that one commercialized, super-materialistic day, should not ruin your month. It is probably important to remember, though, that this one day can be terrible for the planet. Did you know over 26 million lbs of CO2 is created each year for the transportation of flowers and V-Day cards, ALONE?
Yikes, am I right? So, I figured I would give some ideas to swap out the planet-destroying habits for some more eco-friendly ones. And, because minimalism and sustainability have a lot of things in common, some of these options will also be nice if you're looking for something a bit more minimal, but packs a ton of cute, romantic, meaningful thought.
1. Swap Out the Flowers
Almost 200 million ROSES are sold in the US for Valentine's Day. As beautiful as flower bouquets are, flowers that are grown just to be cut have huge carbon footprint; 20 million lbs to be exact. One of the reasons for this is because a lot of pesticides are used. Not only is this bad for the earth, but it's also not good for our health. Also, ever wonder how and where all of these roses and flowers grow in the dead of winter (if you're in a cold climate)?
Well, the flowers are either being transported from warmer climates (where they aren't always being ethically grown) or are from greenhouses. Both options have a pretty hefty carbon footprint.
But Anne, my boo loves flowers. Well, don't you worry because you can swap out the cut, flower bouquets for some planted, living flowers or plants. Preferably in a recyclable, reusable, or compostable pot. Your boo (and you if you live together) will now have a baby plant in the house or garden!
If the eco-friendly fact doesn't have you convinced, then think about it this way. Which of these represents your love better: a pretty bouquet of flowers that will die in 10 days or a plant/flowers that you can tend to and nurture (or at least try to if you don't have a green thumb) together?
2. Avoid the V-Day Cards
If flowers create 20 million lbs of CO2, then that means 6 million lbs of CO2 is created from the cards. Now, let's be honest here, raise your hand if you hold on to your V-Day cards FOREVER. No one under the age of 50? That's what I thought. While I think it's super cute and romantic when someone opens up their little treasure box and takes out all of their cards or love letters, that is something mainly our grandparents did. I mean, do the young people even know what paper cards are anymore? Just kidding. Even though I think actual cards can be super sweet and nice in an age of social media, they unfortunately do have a heavy ecological footprint.
Instead of buying a card, why not make one yourself? I know it's still using up paper, but at least its paper you already had and not paper that was specifically made for this one day. Plus, most of us have scratch paper or random pieces of paper lying around the house. This paper would probably get thrown out during your next cleaning or decluttering, so might as well use it! Extra points: write from the heart or create your own little poem to show the person how much you really love them.
If you really want to give a card, then try buying one that's made of recycled paper, sending an e-card, or knock down two birds with one stone and buy a plantable card made of seed paper!
3. Be Mindful with Your Chocolate
Not only do most chocolate boxes come wrapped in a ton of plastic, but the chocolate and sugar industry are also known for child labour. I'm definitely not saying to skip out on the chocolate, but please be mindful when choosing which chocolate to buy. Don't go straight for the heart-shaped boxes or the big, cheap brands because those are often the ones who are ethically and sustainably questionable.
Instead, go for the chocolate brands that are certified for ethically sourcing and making their chocolate, and are mindful of the environment. Look for brands that are certified by Fair Trade and Rainforest Alliance or use shade-grown cacao. You can also check out the Shop the Frog website for some popular brands that will be good for the earth and your moral conscience.
4. Stay Away From the Balloons
Balloons are made out of plastic, surprise, surprise. Balloons and balloon sticks are the third deadliest ocean trash for birds, turtles, seals, fishes, you get the point. Now that plastic straws and plastic bags are starting to become a thing of the past, it would be a good time to start focusing on balloons.
To go off of that, try to avoid buying V-Day specific decorations like the string with little hearts, V-Day stickers, etc. Unless you plan on reusing these decorations year-after-year, these decorations are quite wasteful and most, if not all, cannot be recycled.
5. Get Crafty and Make Something!
Honestly, this can really be anything and it will depend on what your person likes and wants. It could be making dinner or baking something to creating a piece of artwork.
In case you just wanted a sustainable/minimalist gift ideas list, here you go:
I hope you guys liked these eco-friendly and minimal V-Day tips and gift ideas. Maybe you even learned a few things! Let me know what you guys thought and how you are going to spend your Valentine's Day.