With Valentine’s Day having occurred earlier this week many of us bought and/or received gifts; either from friends, significant others or other loved ones around you. While it is a time to celebrate love, we tend to forget our love for the earth amidst the gift giving traditions and celebrations. Valentine’s Day is the second largest card-giving holiday after Christmas, with over one billion cards given on the holiday which are mostly non recyclable. There is a lot of waste generated due to gift wrappings and decorations going in the trash. This doesn’t mean one shouldn’t celebrate Valentine’s Day; there are many eco-friendly ways to celebrate!
Take a look at all the gifts you gave and received this year. How many of these gifts are disposable? Cards covered in glitter and plastic, balloons and decorations are all examples of items that produce unnecessary waste. If you have received any of these this year, think of ways to repurpose and recycle them. Oftentimes, some decorations, if taken care of properly can be reused in future events. If you gifted any of these items to a loved one, look into sustainable alternatives for next year.
Flowers are perhaps the most commonly given gift on Valentine’s Day. While purchasing flowers it is important to make sure you purchase from a local florist; shipping bouquets from far away not only increases carbon emissions but is also costly. Also look for types of flowers that are in season rather than getting them imported from another place. If you received flowers this Valentine’s Day, look into preserving them rather than having them wilt and thrown away within a few weeks. It is a great way to preserve memories.
With all gifts you purchase, make sure they are ethically sourced and are non disposable items. Look for fairtrade products. You can also make something yourself; bake something sweet, create a handmade card and unleash your creativity. Gifting an “experience” instead of a physical gift is also a nice way to spend quality time with your loved one; book a massage, watch a movie together or surprise them with a fancy homemade dinner. There are many ways to celebrate love sustainably!
Written by Hanyia Ahmed, Class of 2022