By Eva Grimmer, Sustainability Ambassador
The traditional Valentine’s gift usually consists of a combination of roses, chocolate, dinner, and a love note. Unfortunately, many of these practices have hidden costs that are both unsustainable and can promote inhumane working conditions. Let’s just take a look at a few:
The majority of roses in the United States are grown in South America and then shipped here. Not only is the transportation a waste of fossil fuels, but the growing practices used by some flower companies include clear cutting land for rose production and spraying the fields with harmful chemicals.
The chocolate industry is no better, with a dirty past filled with human trafficking and child labor. While greeting cards—the most common gift—will be sold by the millions (190 million to be exact), many cards have embellishments, which make them un-recyclable. When thrown out—they are sent straight to the landfill, where they decompose slowly.
But the good news is that to tell your loved ones that you care, you don’t have to contribute to the unsustainable aspects of Valentine’s Day. Whether your valentine is your significant other or a best friend, celebrate the day with some of these sustainable practices instead:
Skip the bouquet of roses and opt for a living plant. Succulents are easy to care for, and they don’t need much water to thrive. They’ve also been linked to health benefits such as improving indoor air quality.
In place of a box of chocolates, see what sweets your local community has to offer. The Downtown Farmers Market runs every other Saturday in the winter months or check out other local businesses in Utah. Local products not only travel fewer miles to get to you, using less energy along the way, but when you buy local you’re supporting your local community. If you’re looking for a more personal treat, make your own delicious dessert.
These simple suggestions can also translate well to your Valentine’s Day dinner plans. Support local restaurants, or hit up the farmers market to pick out some local produce to prepare a romantic dinner at home. By reducing your meat portion and including more fruits and veggies on your plate you can make an even more sustainable meal!
Lastly, you can avoid creating waste by making your own Valentine card—bonus points for re-using materials in your home. A handmade card is usually more meaningful and allows you to reduce and reuse what would have already become waste. If you’re not feeling crafty, an adorable e-card is a great waste-less alternative.
Your sustainable celebration doesn’t have to end here; by making responsible choices that support conservation you can keep the love going. Tell your sweetheart you care and enjoy the day through eco-conscious decisions.
Eva Grimmer is a senior at the University of Utah studying Environmental & Sustainability Studies and Anthropology. She is passionate about education through communication and issues linked to sustainability.