Valentine's Day is around the corner – this means that we are seeing tons of advertising reminding us to celebrate our friends and loved ones by buying them something special. But did you know that this hasn’t always been the case? More importantly, we might now ask how sustainable this behaviour is in the context of climate change, and also, whether it could be done differently?
From 13 to 15 February, ancient Romans celebrated the feast of Lupercalia. The Feast of Saint Valentine or today known as the ‘Valentine's Day’, was celebrated annually on February 14. It derived from the belief about the patron saint of lovers, epileptics, and beekeepers who was a priest living in Rome. As times went on, it was turned into a day to honour the Christian martyrs, but over the centuries it has turned into a hybrid event that has cultural, religious and commercial elements – all in the name of romance and love.
Last year, a survey carried out in 28 countries found that more than half of all adults who are married, partnered, engaged, or involved in a romantic relationship are planning to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year. That means a lot of consumers are looking for treats and gifts for their loved ones! By now you've probably noticed the appeals to buy various products during the valentines celebration, with a friendly reminder to show your friends and loved ones how much you care.
But, by excess buying, we have turned Valentine’s Day into Plastic and Pollution Day, leaving behind a trail of unnecessary waste.
Perhaps it is time we should go back to basics, to the original idea, which is good for all of - including the environment.
Here are 4 useful green tips on how to enjoy Valentine's Day:
Roses are red, violets are blue.. but sustainability needs you! When it comes to flowers, we probably don't think about them being bad for the environment. In a broader sense on a day-to-day basis flowers are associated with good smells, romance or gifts of gratitude and other good emotions.
However, cut flowers actually create grown in greenhouses heated by natural gas, releasing thousands of kilograms of CO2. That's why a bouquet of flowers comes with a bucket of CO2 that contains a lot of the non-desirable particles that change the air we breathe.
The use of pesticides and herbicides in the flower industry is also problematic both from the perspective of i
You can easily lower the footprint of giving flowers by preferring local flowers as they reduce significantly not only yours, but also others’ carbon footprint – this gesture will also help your local community and economy. If not possible, consider a bouquet of fairtrade flowers or a pot plant which reminds them that you care for years to come, not just the short lifecycle of cut-flowers. Or even you could make some paper flowers instead, you can find awesome ideas online
2. Give emotions, not stuff
The most eco-friendly Valentine’s Day gift is doing something special together! Besides, it is a gift that keeps on giving - memories last for a lifetime! Support your local theatre or band by buying tickets to a show, visiting a museum or going into a nature park - these are just some of the ideas you could try out. After all, nothing beats giving each other the most precious thing you have – your time. Presence, over presents!
3. Chocolate, candies and more!
We agree that chocolate is... simply irresistible. It is also a common thing to give on Valentine’s Day – already in the United States, 58 million pounds (or 26 million kg!) of chocolate is consumed on the week of Valentines Day. If we would all prefer organic and/or Fair Trade Chocolate, it can make a huge difference to the ecosystem and people growing cocoa. It helps to avoid products which have contributed to deforestation or child labour. An estimated 2 million children were used for hazardous labor throughout Ghana and Ivory Coast just in one growing season, 2013-2014.
If you wish to really put your heart into giving something yummy to your friend or loved one, you could also bake cookies or even a cake! After all, nothing says I love you like a self-made treat.
Cards are lovely, but they are even lovelier when they find their way into a box of memories instead of a trash bin after the emotion has passed. Why don’t you consider making and sending your own Valentine’s Day card this year - the recipient will surely notice the time and effort you put into it. This way, it is also more likely to be kept as a reminder instead of passing on to nature's plate.
The tradition has changed over time and we can turn it around again. Let’s start now, create change by celebrating friendship and love in a way that supports the planet!