This Valentine’s Day, show your love for the earth and go a little greener! Here are some suggestions:
- Send recycled-content greeting cards. Make a card from scrap paper, old magazines, or wall calendars or by attaching new backs to the fronts of old cards. Another option is giving a card made of plantable seed paper; bury it and when the paper biodegrades, the seeds grow into wildflowers. Consider sending electronic valentines. Love dolphins, penguins, tigers, and polar bears? Or know someone who does? Check out these free Valentine e-cards from Ocean Conservancy, World Wildlife Fund, and Conservation International. Before tossing your cards in the trash, consider reusing them for scrap booking, collages, picture frames or as smaller greetings for next year’s holidays. You can also try donating them to an art program, scout troop, or day care, or simply sort them into your paper recycling bin.
- Bake cookies or other goodies for your valentine and package them in reusable and/or recyclable containers as gifts. Home-made goodies show how much you care and help you avoid packaging waste.
- Give her sexy green lingerie, and she’ll enjoy the comfort of organic and natural materials all year long.
- It’s little-known, but the flower industry is pretty environmentally destructive. Pluck some peonies from your own garden or give organic(or home-grown) and fair trade flowers. Swing by your local farmers’ market or local greenhouse for a bouquet of your favorites(make sure to ask the farmer whether what you’re buying is free of pesticides). Flowers from your local greenhouse or farm are fresher and more environmentally friendly than those shipped, flown and trucked into the U.S. from the far ends of Ecuador. Organic flowers, on the other hand, are easy to find online, at farmers’ markets (when not snowed in) and often at boutique flower shops in large cities. Other options include a potted plant, live bushes, shrubs, or trees that can be planted in the spring. They always lasts longer. Need help? Check out this top farmers market finder from American Farmland Trust.
- Savor organic and fair trade chocolates. Of all crops, cocoa demands the second highest use of pesticides (first place goes to cotton). But toxicity isn’t a requirement. In fact, the sweet stuff tastes better when producers honor USDA organic standards, which prohibit the use of harmful chemicals. Ensure that you’re supporting the most responsible confectioners by buying organic, local, or shade-grown. If you can, resist the convenience of that frilly heart-shaped box with all those individual paper wrappings tucked into a plastic mold. Instead, go for a less packaged (but just as romantic) option. Not sure which organic chocolate to choose for your sweetheart? Check out these picks. Remember, fair-trade, shade-grown chocolate is nice, but a homemade treat can be even sweeter.
- Pour USA-grown biodynamic organic wines. They don’t cost much more, they don’t travel as far grape to table, and organic wines are made without added sulfites, which makes them more friendly to people with asthma and those who are allergic to the common vino additive.
- Treat your honey’s taste buds at a restaurant specializing in local, seasonal, organic, regional cuisine and has lots of vegetarian options. If all the best restaurants are booked and you can’t get that coveted February 14 reservation, whip up a candle-lit dinner at home. Find out what foods are being grown where you live and then hit your local farmers’ market. Gather up fresh, local ingredients for an intimate home-cooked meal or romantic picnic. Can’t cook? Keep it simple with a romantic picnic, a formula that’s endured for hundreds of years: a jug of (organic) wine, a loaf of bread–and thou. (Check out some local foods stats, learn more about sustainable low mercury fish, and find sustainable recipes from celebrity chefs.)
- If you’re planning a multi-day getaway, consider a staycation, camping, or a green hotel. Think about taking the train to a nearby town to take part in low-impact activities like hiking, snowshoeing or cross-country skiing. Wherever you go, coordinate to take public transit–or a bicycle homebuilt for two.
- Consider eco-friendly jewelry, antique or recycled jewelry. Vintage jewelry is a great choice for romantic souls who don’t romanticize the environmental and human-rights problems associated with mining diamonds and gold. For a bold (and not necessarily bank-breaking) statement, consider a distinctive piece made from recycled metal, paper, or other repurposed materials.
- Purchase natural soy candles to set the mood.
- Create digital playlists instead of packaged CDs.
- If you give your Valentine a tchotchke or doodad, consider how soon it may end up in a landfill. Instead, plan a hike and a picnic in your mutually favorite nature spot. Other memorable small-footprint ideas include a day at a spa(many big city spas have organic or all-natural options for their treatments), a gift certificate to a vegetarian restaurant, a cooking or dancing class, tickets to a nearby concert or play, or a subscription to a local CSA. You can even adopt a national park in your sweetheart’s name.
- If you must wrap your gift, consider alternatives to store bought wrapping paper and planet-friendly options. Leftover fabric, lightweight wallpaper, colorful scarves and even the Sunday comics work just as well. Recycle used ribbons, bows and decorative wrappings. Store used paper and accessories in a convenient place for the next holiday occasion.
- Remember how much fun Valentine’s Day was as a kid? For some special Vday kid’s craft projects, check out these nature-inspired ideas from National Wildlife Federation.
- Single this Valentine’s Day? Find your perfect mate at Defenders of Wildlife’s Online Adoption Center.