Valentine’s day is just around the corner, and millions of couples around the world are dreaming of spending a nice day celebrating love and romance with some special treats.
However, as with other similar celebrations, the amount of waste generated on this day is quite appalling. The most commonly gifted presents are chocolate, flowers and jewellery, together with cards. So why are these unassumingly harmless things so harmful to the environment and what can we do to replace them with an eco-friendly alternative?
Who doesn’t love to receive a bouquet of fresh flowers by our loved one? Although a lovely token, valentines’ day falls on February, so unless you live in a country that is blessed with hot, summery temperatures this time of year, then these simple bunches of smells can pick up a lot of air miles to arrive at our florists' doorsteps.
It has been estimated that nearly 90% of flowers sold in the UK alone are imported. They mostly arrive from the Netherlands, although due to constant trends of trying to bring prices down and the new availability of flowers in supermarkets has increased supplies coming from China, East Africa and South American countries. This obviously presents the problem that due to life shelf of showers, they need to be shipped by air rather than sea, which gives them an incredibly high carbon footprint. Not only that, but in order to make flowers last longer, producers usually spray them with chemicals that make them last longer, although increasing risks for health and air pollution.
What to choose instead
Even though flowers can be composted, I’d say potted plants are always a much better choice; with proper care, they can last a very long time, unlike cut flowers. Choosing varieties that are local and resistant to colder temperatures will also reduce the carbon footprint of having to ship them from some tropical country, making it a lot more sustainable.
How can something so sweet hide such a dark and bitter secret? About 60% of the chocolate world supply is produced in the Ivory Coast and Ghana. We are talking about 2.6 million tons of the delicious product. The worrying aspect of this is that 10 percent of Ghana’s forests have already been replaced by cocoa trees. A similar destiny has been bestowed upon The Ivory Coast, a country that used to once have incredible biodiversity and luscious forest, and has now been deprived of many of its protected areas to cocoa plantation. This has terrible consequences: chimpanzees are losing their natural living environment and are now endangered, and its elephants are nearly extinct.
So buying commercial chocolate from brands that get their chocolate from unverified and unvetted sources can have terrible consequences.
What to choose instead
Choose Fairtrade chocolate. It’s easily recognisable by its famous green, blue and black round logo. What this certifies is that the cocoa used to produce the chocolate products you are buying comes from sustainable farming, paying farmers a living wage and fighting exploitation both of local communities and resources, such as illegal deforestation and decimation of wildlife.
Plus, fairtrade cocoa is usually a lot better quality than the commercially mixed blends from multinational brands.
Another sustainable Valentine’s day is to bake something yourself, your other half will truly appreciate all the effort and time put in to actually make a cake or dessert from scratch, what’s a better way to say I love you than to actually spend time and energy showing that?
Although many paper-based cards can now be recycled according to Recycle Now, this is not the case if they are decorated with glitter. Ribbons and other embellishments are not recyclable either, as well as plasticised paper, so make sure you choose a card that is only made of paper, or even better, use an e-card or make a nice DIY one from recycled paper.
HOW ELSE CAN YOU MAKE YOUR VALENTINE’S MORE SUSTAINABLE?
Instead of choosing some wasteful, unethical products, we have compiled a list of products that will make the perfect Valentine’s gift and will be a great present for both you and your better half, while still caring for the environment and keeping up the fight against single-use plastic.
Here’s our top 8 ideas for a sustainable Valentine:
1. Safety razor, equally perfect for him and for her!
This is probably my favourite idea ever! I have been very passionate about using reusable safety razors for a while now, and one of the best things about them is that they are wonderfully unisex! Get one for you and one for your loved one, or use the same one both of you, for truly “shaving is caring” experience! Get your reusable safety razor HERE, or if you want to go for an even better shaving experience, you can purchase a whole eco-friendly shaving kit complete with shaving eco-soap HERE
2. Handmade Body Scrubbing Soap and Natural Sponge
Treating yourself and your other half doesn’t need to cost a fortune in a luxury SPA experience, get the ultimate pampering session with this set inclusive of:
- Soap pouch: made with sisal fibre that can be used both for holding a soap bar and also as a natural body scrubber due to the exfoliating nature of this amazing natural material.
- Loofah Sponge: natural sponge, derived from a variety of cucumber, dried and peeled, it’s the ultimate vegan and eco-friendly scrubber, fully compostable!
- Lavender Soap: handmade, chemical-free and 100% vegan, create for exfoliating dead skin while at the same time moisturising your whole body
Get the perfect eco-scrubbing set HERE
4. Tropical breakfast in bed with coconut bowls
You don’t need to buy an expensive flight ticket to feel like you are having breakfast in Bali or Thailand! Celebrate your Valentine by preparing a healthy breakfast in these bowls made of discarded coconut shells. Granola, yoghurt, berries and banana, and you will forget for a moment about the cold winter temperatures outside! Available with or without a handmade wooden spoon HERE.
5. Bath Bombs for a relaxing, romantic bath
This set of three naturally made, fully vegan bath bombs will create a true "Spa-at-home" experience. What better Valentine than gifting some me-time to your partner and let the beautiful aromas of natural ingredients embrace and pamper them to the fullest. I love these ones available in 3 organic scents: Spiced Cedar, Rose Geranium and Eucalyptus and Rosemary, get your favourite one HERE
5. Eco-friendly cleaning brush set
It may not be a traditionally romantic present, but what’s more romantic than helping each other with all the chores at home and share everyday life’s burdensome tasks? Show your loved one you are always there to help out, and share everything 50-50, even the cleaning of the house, with this compostable, sustainable bundle of eco-brushes! Made with sustainable natural materials such as coconut fibre, sisal and natural wood, they won’t just make your kitchen clean, but the planet too.
7. Plastic-free bag set
Share the love for the planet with your sweet Valentine by gifting them a set of reusable vegetable bags, bread bag and shopping tote. It’s the first step to make any household even more eco-friendly, but they are an amazing gift too!
Check them HERE, available in multiple colours.
7. Bamboo Travelling set
If your boo loves travelling, there is nothing better than gifting them a bamboo cutlery set, or a straw set, perfect for those constantly on the go. They are a fantastic way to reduce single-use cutlery while travelling, and saving marine lives, as all these products are reusable and won’t endanger turtles and sea creatures by getting in the oceans. You can buy them separately or in a nicely wrapped gift bundle
8. Natural Body Wash and Cream
It is so hard to find body lotions and liquid soaps that don’t come in plastic, let alone free from chemical and nasty stuff. Fortunately, there are companies out there who are on a mission to change that, and Flawless is one of them.
This setincludes a body wash and a body moisturiser that comes in recycled glass bottles, both 100% vegan and cruelty-free.
What more can you wish for the perfect Valentine’s gift?
If you are still unsure what else can make the perfect low waste Valentine, hugs and love are all we all need, and the best bit is that they are not only free, but they are also great for our planet too!
Have a Valentine day full of love and kindness everyone!