• Nina

Sustainable Valentine's Day Swaps to Show the Planet Some Love

Valentine’s Day, whether it’s one of your favorite holidays or you find it silly, is one of my favorite days of the year. Whether I’ve been single or partnered, for me, Valentine’s Day is a day in the year to celebrate love in all of its forms. Love is the most beautiful thing that we have in this life, and Valentine’s day is the perfect time to celebrate your love for yourself, your love for your friends and family, for a significant other, your neighbors, your pets, your plants - everyone. Valentine’s Day can be the traditional Hallmark thing if you want it to be, or you can take V-day and claim it as your own.

V-day is another one of those times where we get to give ourselves gifts, decorate, enjoy some amazing food, and do the fun things we never seem to have time for. With that, of course, comes the onslaught of trinkets, wrapping paper, and disposable baubles that end up in the landfill afterwards. Money spent, money tossed directly in the trash. Here are a few things you can do to make your Valentine’s celebration more environmentally-sustainable (and maybe a little lighter on your wallet), so that you can show the planet some love this year, too.

Practice Mindful Living with these Sustainable Valentine’s Day Swaps (some of them might save you money!)

Buy locally-grown flowers

The vast majority of flowers sold at grocery stores or in big florist shops in the United States are actually imported from overseas. If you buy your flowers locally (try to stick within 200 miles), you are going to be dramatically reducing your V-Day carbon emissions. Whether you’re giving someone a bouquet, scattering flowers in your tub, or decorating your home with roses for that self-love energy (check out my self-love bath recipe), buying locally will not only cut your footprint, but they’re more likely to be tip-top fresh. Try your local farmers market, or check to see which florists in town source their flowers locally.

Make your own, handwritten cards

There’s a lot of production and waste that goes into producing those generic cards you find at the pharmacy. Rather than wasting money on buying your loved one an impersonal notecard with a photo of a bouquet on the front, take a few moments to write and decorate your own. With whatever paper you have access to, grab your finest writing tools and tell your loved one whatever it is you’d like them to hear (or, you can write up a beautifully decorated list of positive affirmations for yourself). Then, use your creative freedom to decorate as you please. Draw, color, stick things to it, spray it with cologne, add flower petals to the envelope - it’s all up to you, not some cheesy stationary company.

Don’t buy wrapping paper and tissue

You don’t have to go spending your money on special paper or bags just to wrap your gifts. Use what you have!

  • Wrap your presents in prettied-up cloth: have some extra fabric lying around? Turn it into giftwrap; I love the look of a cloth-wrapped present. Take a tip from Japanese Furoshiki and learn how to wrap your gifts up in reusable fabric.

  • Upcycle your brown-paper grocery bags and turn them into gift-wrap. Decorate them and add a bow.

  • Reuse shopping or gift-bags: my mom saves every single gift-bag we get. I’ve picked up this habit from her, and like to nicely store all of the shopping and gift-bags that I end up with so that I can use them again and give them a second round. Let’s all make a mutual agreement to circulate our gift-bags and keep using them; that way we can all save money on buying packaging, and reduce our collective waste.

Secondhand or Vintage Jewelry makes a great gift - you can make it individualized if you want to go the extra mile

I've said this before, but let's normalize gifting secondhand items. A stunning, well-made piece of diamond jewelry doesn't just magically lose it's beauty because it's been worn before. Try going on Etsy and searching for secondhand pieces. Natural, precious crystals and stones are a finite source; the best thing we can do for the planet is to use the resources we've already harvested. After purchasing, clean your new jewelry thoroughly. If you want to make it a little more special and "new" for your loved one (or yourself), take it to a local jeweler and see if they can spruce it up; for example, if you bought a banded ring with a gorgeous crystal in the middle, buy a customization from your jeweler and ask them to engrave a pattern into the band. Now it's a completely unique, never-been-worn ring.

Make your own plant-based chocolates (and package them in reusable containers or tins)

Check out this extremely simple recipe from Loving it Vegan for how to make your own chocolate truffles at home. You’ll save money, and you won’t be paying for all that cardboard and plastic packaging that comes with your truffle box at the store. Feel free to add nuts, coconut shreds, flavorings or whatever you (or your gift-ee, but I’ll be making these for myself) would like.

If you do want to buy chocolate, try these vegan truffle options (this one isn’t a money-saver, but definitely a planet-saver)

Not a kitchen witch? That’s perfectly okay; if you really want to spoil yourself or your loved one (again, I would probably buy these for myself), read VegNews’s list for the top 14 vegan chocolate boxes from 2020. It all looks so incredibly good; if I could, I’d spend a paycheck ordering all of them. To read about how vegan and plant-based diets can reduce our negative environmental impact, visit my article on accessible plant-based eating.

Speaking of vegan chocolate, you can also switch to a vegan-friendly wine

Yes, I, too, was horrified for a split second when I learned that not all wine is vegan. Not to sweat, a lot of your typical brands that you can find at the store are vegan-friendly; you can eat plant-based and still give your loved one (or yourself) a nice bottle of red, white, bubbly, whatever they (or you) fancy. You don’t have to go anywhere fancy, either; go to your local store and pull up Barnivore, the most extensive library out there that’ll tell you whether or not your wine is vegan (I promise, there are a lot more options than you’d think!).

If you’re crafty and have materials at home already, make a present instead of buying one

I know, I’ve been using a lot of “make it yourself” ideas - but I swear, DIY is always less expensive, and usually makes everything just a bit more special. Do you paint, knit, weld, whittle? Use the supplies that you have at home for your craft to make a meaningful gift for your loved one. There’s nothing more intimate or personal than a present you crafted with your own hands; showing your love with time is more valuable than showing your love with money.

What are your plans for Valentine's Day this year? Let's chat in the comments!

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