On Feb. 14, numerous couples will express their love for one another with mass-produced gifts and excessive public displays of affection (PDA). Single folks might take this day to feel empowered by their independence or stuff their face with chocolate out of sadness. Regardless of how people choose to spend it, Valentine’s Day is a holiday filled with romance, consumerism, and a significant amount of waste.
While you’re celebrating with your partner, your pals, or yourself, be sure to spread the love across our earth as well! Here are 10 sustainable Valentine’s Day gift ideas and activities to keep the love and the earth alive.
- According to the National Retail Federation, people spend $1.8 billion on chocolate and candy on Valentine’s Day. If you must contribute to this lofty sum, consider buying from a company like Theo Chocolate, which sells organic, soy-free, fair trade, and non-GMO certified chocolate — they’re even offering Valentine’s Day chocolate bars!
- For single folks, take the day to relax by yourself in a warm bubble bath. Support cruelty-free brands and reduce the amount of harmful pollutants released into the air by purchasing or DIY-ing organic products such as vegan soaps and all-natural candles.
- Repurpose clothing you already own through Project Repat, a company that specializes in turning old shirts into handcrafted quilts. This way, you can preserve your favorite tees while keeping cozy with your significant other.
- Speaking of fashion, surprise your partner by wearing eco-friendly lingerie made from organic cotton and bamboo jersey. Brands like Naja pay its workers above market wages with healthcare benefits and donate a small percentage of its revenue to local charities that provide education for marginalized women. With these styles, you can feel and look good on multiple levels.
- Skip eating out and cook a homemade meal instead. You’ll save time and money, and it’ll give you and your partner a chance to bond in the kitchen, try out new recipes, and cook a healthy dish. For sustainability purposes, use locally-sourced and organic ingredients and put your food on real dishes — no paper plates here! You can find whole and natural foods at the Isla Vista Food Co-op.
- The National Retail Federation reports that $933 million is spent on greeting cards on Valentine’s Day — that’s a lot of money and paper wasted on a gift that can easily be handmade. Think back to your elementary school days and exercise your artistic skills by creating a special handmade card for your loved one, but be sure to use recycled paper to decrease waste. You can also ditch the card altogether and opt for a more original declaration of your love such as a spoken word piece or a song.
- If you’re feeling even more crafty, make jewelry from recycled items. You can do this together with a romantic playlist on in the background or you can create one beforehand and present it to your significant other as a unique and personalized gift.
- If you’re set on the traditional ceremony of giving flowers to your partner, visit your local farmers market to see what flowers are in season or pick flowers you see along the way when you’re walking through Isla Vista. Most of the flowers you give your beloved might be picked by overworked and underpaid workers so consider the above options instead.
- At the end of the day, cuddle up with your honey on the couch and crack open a bottle of eco-friendly wine. Check the label to see if the wine is made from organic grapes or at least grown sustainably.
- Keep it simple and take one of the many hikes in the Santa Barbara area or stay local and venture out of your 1000 square foot apartment to the beach or the lagoon. No smelly gas fumes needed — just you, your partner, and the great outdoors.
At the end of the day, the sweetest Valentine’s Day gift or activity doesn’t require you to produce any waste or spend a lot of money. Instead, you can just use the holiday as an opportunity to tell your partner three special words — “I love you.”