Unfortunately since special occasions have become so commercialised they now have high environmental and social impacts. Life should definitely be celebrated, but the mass consumption we indulge in at these times cost us and our planet heavily. But it doesn’t need to be that way, we can rethink things that are much more special than the usual stuff in the shops…. Here are some ideas on how to avoid the excess waste and still enjoy this special day.
“A single red rose could have the same carbon emissions as four and a half kilos of bananas.”
Most cut flowers are grown abroad and so generate a lot of air miles as well as using excessive amounts of chemicals and water. Even those grown in the UK generally need energy guzzling, hot houses to grown in our mild climate. Seasonally, locally grown flowers are better, try Flowers from the Farm or ask at your local florists.
The excessive packaging and cellophane wrapping is also a problem with cut flowers, so do look out for those that use biodegradable versions. Arena Flowers are stated to be Britain’s most ethical while Appleyard Flowers are all British grown. Look out for Fairtrade or Florverde symbols or use the Ethical company index. Aldi, Asda, Co-op, M&S and Sainsburys all stock Fairtrade flowers. This guarantees decent working conditions and wages, women’s empowerment and community projects and investment.
Even better alternatives are to buy planted flowers instead from your local nursery, rather than a supermarket or big store or why not cut some from your own garden? You could buy some seeds or bulbs instead, along with a second-hand quirky container like a vintage mug or colander. Or best of all why not donate to the Woodland Trust, Trees For Life or the National Forest to plant a tree instead, helping to drawdown CO2 in the process.
Look out for ethical, organic, palm oil free or vegan brands that use recyclable & biodegradable packaging. Divine, Booja Booja, Seed & Bean, original beans, Eat your Hat from Traidcraft and Raw Halo are all recommended.
You could also buy handmade treats from a local chocolatier or deli and use a reusable container. You could even make your own, it is very easy and you can add in your favourite flavours from ginger to caramel. Silicone chocolate moulds are available from Lakeland or online if you want something fancy. But you could even use ice cube trays that you already have rather than buying more stuff.
Or do something different like bake some sweet goodies instead like heart shaped biscuits or some delicious gooey vegan chocolate cake.
If you have to buy a shop bought card then look out for recycled or seed paper cards and avoid glitter and cellophane wrappers If you have time then make a really special card yourself using recycled materials. . Try rifling through a junk or antique shop and you may find some lovely vintage cards or photographs you could use or remake. Other low impact options are sending an e-card with Paperless Post, Jib Jab or Open Me or why not write a love letter or poem instead?
Wining & Dining
There are more and more zero waste & vegan restaurants these days. Try using the Happy Cow app to find one near you. Avoid chains and use local family run restaurants that will appreciate your patronage much more. If not then look out for vegan options on the menu as these are a much greener and more ethical choice.
Better still cook a special romantic meal yourself. You don’t even need a cookbook as there are so many wonderful recipes online. Set the mood with some candles and music and enjoy the comfort (and peace and quiet) of your own home. Breakfast in bed for your loved one is the best valentine treat in my opinion, with freshly ground Fairtrade coffee, freshly squeezed OJ, homemade pancakes and lots of blueberries and maple syrup!
If you can’t resist getting a gift to show your love for your valentine then try to purchase thoughtfully. Buy something that is long lasting and good quality with strong ethical credentials. Please avoid plastic junk and foil balloons at all costs. With candles choose unscented natural ones from beeswax or soy, with lingerie choose ethical underwear like some listed here, with jewellery always purchase from a jeweller who is certified for sourcing precious metals and gemstones in an ecologically and responsible manner.
But why not do something nice for your loved one instead of consuming more stuff? Give them a back or foot massage, make a special meaningful playlist, run them a candlelit bath, offer to wash up for a week or take them to an art gallery. Creating a special memory or doing something you know they would really appreciate means so much more.
Do please spare a thought for those on their own on Valentine’s day. As a single, widowed mum myself I know how hard it can be to see other couples together on this love filled day as it is on many other special occasions. So, why not make a card or do something nice for a friend as well? I shall be buying myself a box of chocolates and remembering my wonderful late husband.
#greenvalentines #zerowaste #lowimpactliving