Valentine’s Day is quickly approaching, and if you’re currently in a relationship, you may feel the pressure to do something for your partner.
February 14 is synonymous with chocolates, flowers and maybe even teddy bears, but this commercial holiday is also inadvertently fueling our hyperconsumerism and increasing our carbon footprint.
Gifts usually end up in the bin eventually, or worse, in landfills or rivers where they are likely unable to decompose within our lifetime.
All doom and gloom presented, that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the holiday at all.
Here are some ideas on how you can have a more sustainable Valentine’s Day:
Opt for green gifts
If you’re planning to get a gift, consider buying organically grown flowers, free trade chocolates or even second-hand clothing to lessen your carbon footprint on the planet.
Remember research have shown that cheap, mainstream chocolates exploit farmers and destroy flora fauna. Similarly, fast fashion depends on the exploitation of workers (even child labourers) and our environment.
Ditch the flower bouquets
Florists usually enjoy a spike of sales on Valentine’s Day as flowers have become the gift of choice for this special day.
But rather than pouring all your hard-earned money into a pretty bouquet with a short shelf life, why not opt for something hardy such as a herb plant or a decorative house plant? They’re not only cheaper, but they’re highly practical as they won’t die as quickly.
If the recipient of your gift doesn’t have green thumbs, consider giving them plants that are easy to care for, such as bamboo or succulents. That way, they can still look at the plant and think of you, long after the traditional flower bouquet has wilted.
And while you’re at it, consider creating a DIY card using recycled paper rather than a store-bought one, or even a funky digital card.
A DIY romantic meal
Are you planning to have a romantic lunch or dinner with your significant other?
While restaurants and cafes are bound to have plenty of Valentine’s Day promotions, why not consider cooking your own meal instead?
Or better yet, cook with your partner using ingredients from your local farmer’s market, rather than buying imported goods (that have travelled unsustainably from faraway places) from your supermarket.
If cooking isn’t your thing, try scouring for sustainable or vegetarian/vegan restaurants to dine at. This will reduce the carbon footprint you would have expanded driving to and from the restaurant too.
Avoid buying items for the sake of buying
It’s easy to feel the pressure to buy something for your beau on Valentine’s Day, especially when some of your peers are out buying something extravagantly-priced for their partner, or dining at expensive restaurants, or planning a costly weekend getaway.
But there are many other ways to show someone how much you care without splashing cash you don’t have.
Chances are, your student associations might be selling some trinkets or cheap flowers that you can easily afford, but if you feel these might eventually end up in the trash, don’t feel the pressure to buy something for the sake of buying it.
Instead, consider doing something that will still mean a lot to your loved one. You could bake their favourite dessert or meal, write a heartfelt letter, offer a gift of service (where you do something for them for free), attend a free event, and so forth.
At the end of the day, your partner will likely appreciate the fact that you carved some time out to spend the day with them.