The first week of February is almost over and done with and you know what that means: it’s time to start thinking about Valentine’s Day.
The inner cynic in me wants me to dislike Valentine’s Day so badly; it’s a holiday that promotes consumerism, encourages binge eating, and makes single people feel like they’re doing something wrong. Despite all of that I can’t help but enjoy the holiday and I have always looked forward to celebrating it even when I was single. When done right Valentine’s Day is all about sharing love with the people around you – both romantically and platonically – and taking the time to treat yourself right as well.
Unfortunately for the planet, the rampant consumerism that is associated with Valentine’s Day generates a lot of waste. So today I want to talk about how you can have a sustainable Valentine’s Day; because after all, the Earth needs some loving too.
In the United States it’s pretty common to pull out all the stops on Valentine’s day with cards, giant teddy bears, boxes on boxes on boxes of chocolate, and fancy outfits worn to fancy restaurants. When an entire country worth of people are all doing that at the same time it starts to add up.
According to the National Retail Federation, “Those celebrating Valentine’s Day [in the United States] plan to spend $4.7 billion on jewelry, $3.7 billion on an evening out, $2 billion on flowers, $1.9 billion on clothing, $1.5 billion on gift cards/gift certificates and $894 million on greeting cards.” The worst part is a lot of the things bought for Valentine’s Day end up being discarded once the holiday is over.
Saving money is a good enough reason to celebrate sustainably this Valentine’s Day, but you can also benefit your community by shopping locally.
Here are some zero-waste ways to have a love-filled Valentine’s Day in 2019:
For the significant other…
- Make your own box of chocolates! I did this for John last year and it was surprisingly easy. I cut up old cereal boxes to make a cardboard heart and then filled it with chocolate from the bulk section. For extra sustainable points try to buy organic and/or fair trade certified.
- Make a romantic playlist! Good music makes any holiday better, so throw together a playlist with some tunes that you and your significant other enjoy jamming out to. Don’t feel confident that you can set the mood? Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Here are some playlists on Spotify that should hit the spot: here, here, and here.
- Bake them their favorite treat! Instead of buying desserts in plastic containers consider baking some of your own. Here are some of my favorite vegan dessert recipes.
- DIY something special! Make a jar full of memories or a booklet with reasons why you love them. These things are simple and a bit cheesy, but they can also make their day.
- If you don’t want to make something then buy a zero-waste gift! Shameless plug here, but my Etsy shop Westward and Woven has the coziest knit items to keep your significant other warm all year. You can also dig through vintage stores to find old jewelry without any packaging – I recommend going to The Other Side Vintage if you’re in Tallahassee.
- Don’t buy flowers from the grocery store! Instead visit your local flower shop and ask for paper wrapping instead of plastic. If you want something that’ll last longer than flowers then consider giving a potted plant or planting a tree together.
- If you’re really outdoorsy donate to an outdoor conservation organization on behalf of your significant other. Nothing says “I love you” like a pledge to support organizations like the Southeastern Climbers Coalition, Access Fund, or The American Alpine Club.
At the end of the day your significant other will probably enjoy time spent with you over any gift. Consider getting a couples massage (or just treat them to a massage of their own!), going on a picnic, having a painting date, cooking a nice dinner together, or paying for them to do their favorite activity with you. If you’re feeling bold then try something you’ve never done before and even if it goes terribly wrong it’ll make for a good memory.
For your friends…
The television show Parks and Recreation has forever changed Valentine’s Day by introducing Galentine’s Day: the holiday devoted to celebrating female friendships that takes place on February 13th. Even if you can’t go all out like Leslie Knope and make a mosaic portrait of each of your friends made from the crushed bottles of their favorite diet soda (let’s be real though, who doesn’t want to be that extra for their friends?!) there are plenty of things you can do to show your friends that you love them this Valentine’s Day.
- Brunch is always the answer. Back home my girlfriends and I would get together every Friday or Saturday to cook brunch together and hang out. The tradition fell by the wayside when we all got jobs and boyfriends and left for college, but the spirit of the brunch-bunch is always alive and well whenever we get back together. Whether you make it yourself or go out to eat, brunch is always the fool-proof way to celebrate Galentine’s Day.
- Send a card to let them know you’re thinking about them! It doesn’t matter if it’s a handmade card or an e-card, the gesture is what’s important.
- Plan a fun day together! Odds are you and your friends are probably in romantic relationships with other people, so Galentine’s Day is a good excuse to call each other up and plan a day that is all about friendship. Go to a local restaurant, visit an outdoor space near you, or just hang out and watch a movie together.
Pictured above: an OG brunch-bunch Galentine’s Day adventure.
Don’t forget to treat yo’self too!
As great as they are, holidays have the potential to add a lot of unnecessary stress to our lives, especially when you’re single during a holiday that is all about romantic relationships. That’s why at the end of the day it’s important to treat yourself to a sustainable Valentine’s Day too – whether you’re single or not.
- Pamper yourself. This means something different to each of us. For some people this might look like taking yourself out for lunch, while for others it means putting on a face mask and popping in a bath bomb. Take some time this Valentine’s Day to do what makes you feel good.
- Create a calming space. I’m not sure about the rest of you guys, but for me my external environment plays a huge role in my mental health. I feel so much happier and more productive when my room is clean and my surroundings are welcoming. If you don’t have any other plans for Valentine’s Day, the least you can do is take some time to tidy up your personal space; make your bed, light a candle or power up your essential oil diffuser, water your plants, and turn on the twinkly Christmas lights that I know are hanging up somewhere in your room. It really does make a difference.
- Get outside. I’m a firm believer in the idea that time spent in nature is time well spent. If you want to do something for yourself but aren’t sure what to do, then take a walk at a local park or read a book in your backyard.
Have a happy Valentine’s Day everyone, and remember to spread love not waste.
What are your plans for Valentine’s Day? Let me know in the comments, or shoot me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. All photos in this post were taken by me unless otherwise specified in the caption.