There are two different types of people on Valentine’s Day: those who love it, and those who are very annoyed by it. Thoughts on the holiday aside, it’s still a great excuse to do something nice for anyone in your life you appreciate!
Why Leave the Planet Out?
Sadly, however, Valentine’s Day is heavily commercialized. Stores are flooded with chocolates, cards, flowers, and stuffed animals - and while this means that a lot of people are made happy by exchanging gifts, the environmental impacts are lofty. According to a video by Waste 360, on Valentine’s Day US citizens buy:
36 million heart-shaped boxes
180 million cards
198 million roses
881 bottles of champagne
And 58 million pounds of chocolate.
This adds up to more carbon emissions than would be created from “driving around the world 3,993 times.” But that’s not a reason to swear off the holiday altogether. It’s just a big incentive to start celebrating more sustainably. Here are 5 ideas for zero waste gifts this Valentine’s Day.
Make Your Own Card
Sure, it’s easy to buy a card at the grocery store. But while those pre-made slogans and heartfelt messages look nice, they’re lacking originality and thoughtfulness. You don’t have to be artistic to make your own card; colored pencils and paper is enough. And if you’re still doubting your own abilities, websites like Canva have online card creators you can personalize and print out in 5 minutes or less. Making your own card cuts down on the paper waste produced by card companies and hopefully will create less of a demand for premade cards in the future.
Bake Your Own Desserts
Oftentimes, a hand-made desert is going to be more appreciated than a box of cheap chocolates from the store. Here in America especially, it is a well known fact around the world that American chocolate is low quality compared to other chocolate from around the world due to its low cacao content and higher sugar content, combined with the use of butyric acid, which some postulate allows Hershey’s to use less fresh ingredients. So with all of this knowledge about grocery-store chocolate quality, why not bake something sweet yourself instead? There are a ton of cookie recipes online that use 5 ingredients or less, and the act of baking can be therapeutic in and of itself–not to mention a bonding experience if done with others.
Make Your Own Candle
Everyone likes getting candles. But you can take a zero-waste spin on this classic gift by making someone a completely hand-made candle. The three basic materials you need are soy wax, a wick, and a vessel for the candle. Soy wax is a great, 100% natural and biodegradable alternative to other candle wax such as paraffin, which has a larger environmental impact. On top of that, the great thing about making your own candle is that you can reuse any container you want in the process. You can use mason jars, metal tins, fun thrifted glasses, and even halved lemon peels for even more natural creations.
Make Your Own Blanket
It’s surprisingly simple to finger knit your own blanket. You can learn to make the blanket in less than two hours, and with just your own two hands and 5-7 skeins of chunky yarn, give or take. You can pick whatever color scheme you want, and the end result is sure to be cozy, cute, and make a fantastic homemade gift.
If You Have to Buy, Do It Sustainably
If you really don’t want to gift homemade, you can still take the extra steps to make your gift better for the environment. If you want to buy flowers, you can buy organic ones or a potted plant instead. You can ensure any chocolate you buy is fair trade, ensuring there was no unjust labor involved in its making. You can also make sure any jewelry you buy is ethically sourced, too. Unethical gemstone mining can cause soil erosion and deforestation, and by going the extra mile to uncover the history of the products you buy, you can stand up against these harmful practices.
Let’s Not Forget Zero Waste Date Ideas
When it comes to spending time with those you love, the best way to celebrate Valentine’s Day sustainably is to plan for unique experiences. There are a lot of options for dates that are fun while still being environmentally friendly:
Spend time in nature: you can go on a hike or a small walk at sunset, and get out of the house to appreciate nature together. You can also have a fun photoshoot outdoors wherever there’s pretty scenery, with the added bonus of having a way to remember the day forever.
Go ice skating: a fun winter staple activity and an excuse to hold hands.
Candlelit dinner at home: you have more privacy and more options than you do in a restaurant when you do it yourself.
Movie night: stay in and do face masks while watching a romantic movie to have a relaxing and cozy holiday.