Happy Valentine's Day month!! Valentine's day has become quite consumeristic over the years, full of plastic and glitter and mass-produced, single-use items that sit in our landfill or hundreds if not thousands of years. Let's change that!
We can still support Valentine's Day in zero-waste style. In this post, we're going to be covering how to celebrate Valentine's Day zero waste. Let's go!
There are a few things to cover here. First: Buy fair-trade chocolates (whether vegan or not, but go for vegan if you want to be more eco-friendly). Here is a guide for buying fair-trade chocolates. Fair trade ensures famers get the right amount of money for their harvest and that everyone along the supply chain is treated and paid fairly. Basically, it means there is no slave-labor, child-labor, or taking advantage of employees like we might see with other companies.
Of course, buying vegan chocolates is great too! There are so many brands out there these days that don't include milk or use plant-milk instead. Avoiding dairy means not contributing to the exploitation of dairy cows AND it's a much less hefty environmental footprint.
You can also buy bulk chocolates. Head down to your local bulk store (if you have one) and see what they have completely package free. If it's also fair trade and vegan, then triple win!! But, If it were me, I'd pick fair trade over some paper or plastic any day to ensure the people are treated fairly.
If you don’t have bulk chocolates, opt for the chocolate that comes in the least packaging and most recyclable packaging. For example, get cardboard or a tin if possible, but even a plastic tub is better than a plastic bag. Even a plastic bag with naked chocolates inside is better than a plastic bag with more plastic inside.
Zero-Waste Valentine's Day Meals/Dates
Take out has become quite popular in the age of Uber Eats and COVID-19. So, instead of getting a bunch of plastic and styrofoam and having to worry if it's vegan or not, eat a meal at home vs take out (since most of us can’t dine in during covid times). Plus, this is just so much more romantic getting to put together a special meal with your special someone. And, you can even do it in sweats and drink wine while you do it and make it the perfect evening.
Or, you can have a picnic if it’s not too cold where you live. I know, most people live in snowy areas. But for those of us who live in warmer climates, you have even have a romantic V-day picnic! This can be easier too because instead of cooking a giant meal, you really only need to prepare snacky foods. If it snows where you live, have an indoor picnic!
Either way, ditch the steak. Eat a vegan meal if you want but at the bare minimum, ditch the red meat as red meat is the least eco-friendly and the most resource-intensive. Beef requires more land, water, and overall resources to produce than any other meat and all the meat sources require overall more resources than just eating pants.
Bake things yourself vs buying a bunch of prepackaged items. Things like cookies, brownies, and cupcakes are great Valentine’s gifts, too! This prevents you from buying a lot of excess packaging and you most likely already have the ingredients at home to make these things. Plus, you can make them taste exactly how you want!
Have a low waste date: stargazing, spa day, watch a movie, take a class together, and so forth. Giving the gift of an experience is so much more memorable and a lot less waste, too. Plus, it can be more romantic too. Instead of giving someone a teddy bear that might get shoved into a box someday, have a couple's massage.
Zero Waste Valentine's Day Gifts, Cards, Etc.
Make upcycled valentine’s day cards vs buying mass-produced single-use cards. Use paper or cardstock you already have at home or upcycled something you already have into a new card. This goes for cards for your significant other and for friends but also for the tiny cards kids give out at school.
Or, make e-cards instead! I know, it's certainly not traditional, but it's so easy with apps like Canva (not sponsored, I just love them) to make quick graphic designs. Then your significant other can keep it on their phone for years instead of worrying about keeping a physical card. Not to mention, this saves a lot of paper!
If you have kids, make a Valentine’s day box together out of upcycled materials! I'm talking about the Valentine's day boxes kids take to school to receive the little cards from classmates. Instead of buying a brand-new, pre-made one, make one together out of an old shoe-box or other materials you already have at home vs buying new supplies, too.
For gifts, give something eco-friendly like the things I already mentioned OR make something yourself, a plant, or something you thrifted. There are so many options for eco-gifts. Be sure to check out the next section, too for more gift ideas besides mass-produced teddy bears and boxes of chocolates.
If you wrap gifts, ditch that (along with glitter, ribbons, and bows). Or, wrap them in something like a towel, scarf, newspaper, or other upcycled material. I'm not sure if wrapping gifts is popular for Valentine's day, but try to find something besides brand-new plastic/paper to wrap it in. Most wrapping papers are a mix of paper and plastic so they can't even be recycled!
Misc. Low Waste Valentine's Day Tips
Ditch the fast-fashion lingerie and support eco-friendly lingerie instead. Most are made of polyester and/or made in sweatshops. Ditch that and support companies making pieces with love. You can browse a few brands here. They will last longer and won't cause any more detriment to the planet.
Buy eco-friendly perfumes vs perfumes with parabens and other hazardous ingredients in them. You can find a list of 10 eco-friendly perfumes here and organic perfumes here. It takes 4 tons of roses to make just 1 kg/2 lbs of rose oil! If you can ditch the perfume all together, that's amazing. But, if you need some for a gift or special occasion, think about making a more sustainable swap if you can instead of hitting Bath and Body Works.
Let's talk about flowers. Get locally grown flowers and even get organic if possible. We often only think about organic with the things we eat, but it goes for all things we grow as using fewer chemicals is clearly better for the environment. Or, just go pick some wildflowers (being mindful not to pick them all!). But, most flowers in the US (roses in particular) come from Colombia or Ecuador. That’s a big carbon footprint for a gift that will shortly die.
Rather, gift someone flower seeds instead so they can have the joy of planting them and seeing them grow! Dan did this for Valentine's Day 2020 and it was so much fun to grow them myself instead of having flowers shipped to me. Plus, the seeds come in paper so it's very low waste!
Ditch new jewelry too. Gold, diamonds, and silver are some of the most resource-intensive materials to mine and transform into jewelry and it is a terrible process for the environment. You can learn more about that in The Story of Stuff. Instead, get vintage and second-hand jewelry. You can even get a ring or necklace remade at your local jeweler if it’s not quite your taste.
Make DIY beauty products like lotions, body scrubs, bath salts, and so forth instead of buying mass-produced plastic-packaged items. But, if that’s not your jam, order these items from eco-friendly brands. You can shop eco-friendly bath bombs here, shop all-around eco-friendly skincare here, and natural body scrubs here. Same with makeup. Support eco-friendly make-up brands, too. You can browse a few brands here.
Buy alcohol from a local brewery or winery vs alcohol shipped from another country. Alcohol is a heavy item to ship and if it's coming from thousands of miles away, that's a hefty carbon footprint. Instead, check out your local area (city, region, state, even just your home country). To see what sort of wine or other spirits they have that you can enjoy for much less emissions and eco-guilt.
That is all I have for today, thank you so much for reading along. I hope this inspires you to have a more eco-friendly Valentine's Day this year and every year. If I missed some good tips, be sure to leave them below so we can all implement more and more eco-holiday habits.
As always, remember that your small changes have a big impact in the long run :)