Happy Valentine’s Day! Thousands of people around the globe celebrate this romantic holiday, whether with a partner, spouse, relative, friend, or even pet. Classic sappy cards, roses, chocolates, and giant teddy bears are all queued up to be given to a loved one. Local stores, florists, and businesses have been stocking the shelves for months for this occasion, spending hours of their time making every display case perfect. But, have you ever thought about the possible impact these items have on our environment? Let’s take a deeper look into the possible effects. 

Chocolates, the best edible gift given on Valentine’s Day, or any other day. Unfortunately, the production process of chocolate is actually one of the leading causes of global deforestation, and in turn climate change. Vast lands across West Africa are used as cocoa plantations, clearing out the previous vegetation and foliage that once grew in that soil. After the chocolate is harvested, transported, produced, and transformed into the delectable candy we all know and love, it’s placed into aesthetically pleasing heart shaped boxes. But, most of the packaging materials used are not recyclable or produced from reusable sources. 

Now let’s talk about flowers. Flowers give a message without words and different flowers have  different meanings, whether yellow for friendship, red for love, or white for sympathy. Flowers always bring a sense of happiness no matter the occasion, but flowers take a lot of water to grow and flourish, along with the potential use of pesticides and fertilizers. These chemicals end up contaminating the soil and nearby water sources, eliminating the chance for clean, quality natural resources. Many florists and stores get their flowers shipped in house, causing the need for transportation to increase, in turn contributing to a rise in pollution. All these factors should not discourage you from purchasing flowers for a loved one, but make you think of a more creative way to obtain them. 

Moving on to the given messages behind the holiday, valentine’s day cards. The ink and paper used to design and produce each card are not always eco-friendly. Most wholesale places produce in bulk for cheap, so sustainable resources are not always at the forefront of their thought process. According to the Greeting Card Association, over 145 million cards are exchanged just on this one day, resulting in mass amounts of significant waste. 

Speaking of waste, single use items are also a huge part of this holiday. From candy packaging, to beverage bottles, to balloons, decorations and ribbons; even to the plastic sleeves flowers are brought home in. These items contribute to the mass waste that is produced just on this one day. 

BUT! There are ways that we can still happily celebrate this day and also be eco-conscious. 

  1.  Buy locally-grown flowers and even pick your own! This reduces the chance of transportation produced emissions, excess water usage, extra plastic wrappings, and you get to support small businesses. You can also pick and create your own bouquet, if you find a safe and obtainable source. 

  1.  Consider giving eco-friendly gifts – give a donation in the person’s name, donate a tree to a conservation organization, or give an experience rather than a tangible gift. These ways show consideration, while treating our planet with respect. 

  1.  Dinner is the main event of this day, rather than dining out, prepare a home cooked meal or go on a picnic! This can be a great date night, find a delicious recipe and cook together. Using locally sourced ingredients, reusable containers, and reducing the usage of vehicle transportation is a great step towards a sustainable holiday.  

  1.  Make your own cards! This is a super sweet and intimate way of showing your person you care. It also contributes to saving waste, money, and time waiting in line at the stores. 

  1.  Use sustainable materials when decorating a space and wrapping a gift. Recyclable wrapping paper, hand made decorations and cards, and watching the amount of tape, glitter, candles, or any other single use product can be a huge help in lessening our effect on the environment. 

If at least one person from each household participates in one of these actions, not only will the holiday be more successful, but the environment will thank you.