This Valentine’s day, show some love to the planet as well as your significant other, by forgoing the glittery cards, plastic wrapped bouquets of cut flowers, balloons and all the other tat that can’t be recycled.
The UK produces a staggering amount of waste all year, but that rises even more on “holidays” such as Valentine’s Day. According to IBISWorld, UK romantics spent around £1.4 billion on Valentine’s Day in 2019. Whilst much of that was on hotels and restaurants, a huge portion was spent on traditional and tacky gifts. I can’t help but wonder how much of that ended up in landfill, where it will outlast even the longest of loving relationships.
Valentine’s Day Cards
Us Brits love a greeting card, it’s part of our culture and the industry is a great employer in the UK. Charities also raise a lot of money with the sale of their greetings cards. More than 25 million Valentine’s Day cards are sent every year, so if you do want to give a card, look for one that doesn’t come wrapped in plastic, that uses recycled card and that gives to charity. Avoid glitter and metallic parts that can’t be recycled. After the big day, you can also cut up the card and use it to write notes or as gift tags.
Create Memories, Not Waste
This Valentine’s Day, the best gift of all you can give is your time. A weekend or night away or a meal out are firm favourites with many, although my husband and I avoid restaurants on Valentine’s day! Why not cook them their favourite meal at home and relax with a film. How about a nice walk, a trip to the theatre, the cinema or a gig.
Check Facebook events in your local area for anything a bit different that might be happening nearby. What about a fun activity you’ve wanted to try for a while, or taking a class together, like painting, pottery, a dance class. The possibilities are endless.
Photo by Yana Tkachenko
Chocolate is a traditional gift on Valentines but normally contains palm oil and is often wrapped in plastic, especially on Valentine’s day with gimmicky heart shaped packaging all around. If your partner is a chocolate lover, look for locally produced chocolate, or organic, Fairtrade or Rainforest Alliance certified, to ensure the cocoa is sustainably grown and the farmers and workers are treated and paid fairly.
Photo by Larry Garcia Pezo
Or why not put a spin on the traditional chocolates with a gift that is good for the planet, and amazing for the skin! This plastic free Cacao face mask by Lani is absolutely divine and leaves skin feeling super soft. You can be safe in the knowledge that all Lani products are 100% natural and cruelty free. Plus they donate to animal charities every month.
It’s Not All Rosy
What says Valentine’s Day more than a bunch of roses? But what is the cost? They usually come wrapped in plastic, a huge amount of water is needed, harmful chemicals and pesticides are often used, they are shipped in from overseas where workers, many of them female, work extremely long hours in poor conditions with very low pay. It doesn’t sound quite so romantic when put like that does it? If flowers are a non-negotiable for you, make sure they are Fairtrade or grown locally.
If I’ve convinced you otherwise, why not try something a bit different. This gorgeous rose soap by Little Fox Soapery is made with love in the UK using organic rose oil. It looks good enough to eat, smells amazing, feels lovely on the skin and lasts ages. Couple with one of our heart shaped loofahs to make it even more romantic!
Heart shaped balloons are incredibly popular on Valentine’s Day but these are terrible for the environment. They kill countless animals and birds, the strings can choke and entangle them, or they mistake them for food. Many balloons are made of latex (rubber) and covered in preservatives and plasticisers. They take up to four years to break down, giving them plenty of time to kill wildlife. The most common Valentine’s Balloons though, are even worse; foil, or mylar balloons. These are made from a polyester resin, coated with a metallic foil and are not biodegradable. If you love the planet, ditch the balloons!
Donate to a cause close to their heart
Does your loved one support a particular charity? Why not donate to a cause that means something to them. Or spend a day volunteering together, giving the gift of time to your partner, as well as the charity or organisation they care about.
Do they love animals? There are many charities that offer “Adopt an animal” schemes (you may want to opt out of the soft toy!).
Photo by Linnea Herner
I hope I’ve given you some ideas for a more eco-friendly Valentine’s Day. Do you have any other suggestions? I’d love to hear them.