Eco-friendly Valentine’s Day do’s + don’ts

An eco-friendly Valentine’s Day is a great way to show your partner some love while still loving the planet. Throughout history, Valentine’s Day was a time to send handwritten notes and cards to your Valentine to express your love. But like most traditions including Christmas and Birthdays, Valentine’s Day has been overtaken by hyper-consumerism. 

Valentine’s Day is a great time to take a moment to appreciate your partner and spend some quality time together. But it’s also a time of thoughtless purchases and unnecessary waste.

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In fact, nearly 200 million roses are purchased globally for the celebration. Meanwhile, people in the UK spend an average of 23 pounds per person. This totals more than 900 million pounds each year. Millennials spend the most on Valentine’s day, coming in at around £32 ($45 USD)

I’ve rounded up a few do’s and don’t for an eco-friendly Valentine’s Day. And if you’re single, it’s the perfect time to focus on numero uno. Treat yourself to a nice bottle of wine, fairtrade chocolates and a night of self-care. 

Do set the mood with soy candles for an eco-friendly Valentine’s Day

Conventional cheap candles are often made from paraffin wax. This ingredient is derived from fossil fuels that also let off toxic chemicals when burnt. It’s probably not such a great idea to be burning these in your home. Carcinogens aside, paraffin wax can also leave sooty markets on walls, window sills and glass candle containers. 

Soy and coconut wax candles are not made from fossil fuels, so that’s a few points right there. These plant-based candles that don’t emit toxic chemicals when burning. They’re a much better choice for your lungs as well as the planet. Their burn time is usually about 50% longer than paraffin wax candles. Hand made candles are a great way to shop small and local too. 

Do wear ethically made lingerie

There’s nothing wrong with buying something nice to wear on Valentine’s Day. Especially if it will give you an extra boost of confidence and pleasantly surprise your partner. But steer clear of fast fashion. 

Lots of fast fashion companies are selling cheap underwear and lingerie sets at the minute. Fast fashion is unethically made in sweatshops with terrible conditions for workers. Cheap clothing items are usually also made from synthetic fabrics that emit microplastics when washed. You can probably expect them to only last a few washes too before losing their shape and developing holes.

There are quite a few sustainable and ethical brands selling quality underwear. Just search Ecosia to find some where you are. Another option is to buy second hand. And before you say yuck… hear me out. A lot of secondhand shopping apps have people selling items that have never been worn and still have the tags on. Lingerie and pyjamas are commonly given as presents for Valentine’s Day, Bachelorette parties and Birthdays. But these are personal items and it’s difficult to get the right size when buying for someone else. So check for second-hand online first! 

Do buy fair-trade chocolates 

Chocolate and Valentine’s go hand in hand… But many conventional chocolate brands hide a shameful secret. 

Organisations and journalists have exposed the use of child labour, and even slavery, on cacao farms in West Africa; where the world’s top cacao producers are. This cacao is sold to some of the biggest player’s in the chocolate industry. Some chocolate giants have even admitted they can’t guarantee that slavery doesn’t exist in their supply lines. Local cacao industries have also begun to make it difficult for investigators to access farms and check for human rights violations.

If you’re going to pick up some chocolates this Valentine’s Day, look for brands with the Fair Trade certification. Or better yet, brands that are actively trying to end slavery in the chocolate industry such as Tony’s Chocolonely and Divine Chocolate.

Now on to the don’ts  

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Don’t have a meat heavy meal  

We all know meat production is terrible for the environment so I won’t go into too much detail. I’m also not going to say you have to be vegan but snaps to you if you are. A plant-based Valentine’s meal is an amazing idea. But if you prefer to have meat on special occasions, opt for a smaller amount and load up on the veggie starters, sides and desserts. 

Not only will having less or no meat be a better choice for the environment, it’ll stop you feeling bloated for the rest of your romantic evening. 

Don’t give Valentine’s themed presents 

Shops are currently filled with cheap and tacky Valentine’s Day presents including balloons, stuffed animals and plastic crap. How did we get to a place socially where presenting someone with a mass-produced, plastic item from an overseas factory is counted as a declaration of love? Any Valentine’s Day-themed present will only be good to use for one day of the year. They will likely be poor quality too. Steer clear and I’m sure your partner won’t mind in the slightest. 

Don’t buy balloons for an eco-friendly Valentine’s Day

I’m not sure why it took me so long to realise that balloons are just another form of unnecessary plastic pollution. It didn’t click for me until recently I saw a wildlife documentary showing the stomach contents of sea birds. It broke my heart to see deflated balloons among all the pieces of plastic from inside their stomachs. Balloons are the definition of unnecessary single-use plastic, give them a miss. 

Another thing to remember is that Valentine’s Day is essentially just a marketing holiday. Expectations for presents and flowers come from marketing messages that are designed to make us consume and spend money. 

Eco action step: 

Your eco action step this week is to have a chat with your partner about their expectations for Valentine’s Day. If you don’t need anything, tell them you’d prefer not to do presents. Take a few minutes to plan your romantic evening together to make an eco-friendly Valentine’s Day. Even if it’s just watching a movie with some homemade popcorn!

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