Valentine’s day is fast approaching, but like every occasion we celebrate it’s easy to fall into a consumer trap and buy presents for loved ones. Megan Tarbuck, WILD’s lifestyle editor has compiled a sustainable guide to valentine’s day, so you can treat the ones you love and be good to the planet.
Here are a selection of ideas for a sustainable valentine’s day! From not buying anything to buying sustainable, here are some ideas that will make your valentine’s day special without the environmental impact. This valentine’s day there are many brands and ethical options to choose from, but with a student budget in mind, I’ve kept it simple with just a few ideas.
Day trips or experiences
Day trips or experiences are lovely ways to show someone you love them. Take the train to visit a new city or get tickets to a show, experience or film. These types of gifts are a lovely idea to spend some time with each other and you can be really creative with where you go. Do something active like rock climbing or ice skating. Not so sporty? Go to a show and have drinks afterwards. Don’t want to go far? Explore your local area, you could hike or just take a stroll and have a bite to eat in an a local cafe and even better, go for a vegan option! Choosing an experience or trip is much more sustainable than buying a physical present and you have the added bonus of spending quality time with each other and creating memories.
Sometimes it’s important to think about what we already have. For example, I’m extremely fortunate in that I can buy the things I need mostly when I need them. But it is valentine’s day, so you could show someone you’re still thinking of them if they don’t want a present by donating! The Choose Love store ran by Help the Refugees allows people to purchase items refugees need across the world. There are many other places to donate to as well through non-government organisations. Although you are still purchasing something, you’re helping somebody else in the world in need. That’s what love is all about right?
So you’re still keen on buying a present for someone you love. Good job there are many sustainable options for presents too, here are a few student budget friendly last minute ideas.
Zero Waste Ideas
If you or your partner are just starting your zero waste journey, perhaps you’re feeling the Attenburgh effect, why not indulge in making a sustainable swap? So buying a reusable coffee cup might not be the most conventional valentines gift, but it’s important to start making these switches.
Perhaps you could treat someone to a sustainable starter kit? Perhaps you know your loved one is keen to switch to plastic free periods or really wants to try switching to shampoo bars. Making a sustainable kit for someone could be really useful for someone who hasn’t had the confidence or time to make these changes yet. Lush do some fantastic pampering kits, shampoo bars and bath bombs. Stores like Oxfam shops and Fairtrade stores also sell many sustainable swaps that make lovely gifts.
Although highly associated with valentine’s day, chocolate is an extremely damaging industry to the planet. WWF state that cocoa is a ‘critical cash crop’ grown in West Africa but many cocoa farms are linked to deforestation, habitat destruction and forced child labour in hazardous conditions. You can read about ethical chocolate here. Ethical chocolate brands can be on the pricey side which may put people off, but this is because it reflects the true price of production and ensures workers are fairly paid. The next best thing is to buy vegan chocolate (dark chocolate!), here is the Independent’s list of best vegan chocolate.
Alternatively you could bake something to show you really care. Our recipe for vegan brownies is always a winner, or even have a go at making your own vegan truffles and experiment with your loved one’s favourite flavours. This is probably a cheaper alternative but it has a personal touch to it, making it a great valentine’s gift.
The flower industry poses many environmental risks, harsh chemicals and quick turnaround times. Skip out the environmental impact of flowers and buy a plant instead! Plants are perfect gifts for everyone. They clean the air, look nice and can last years and years if you look after them well. House plants can be brought from garden centres, B&Q or even on the high street. A plant is a long lasting gift and perfect for Valentines day.
Cards for any occasion are a difficult subject, do we really need them? Whether you save your cards or not, inevitably a lot of waste is created from cards whether they can be recycled or not. When buying cards be mindful if they can be recycled or composted, this way you can reduce your impact and still send a valentines card.
Whatever you decide to do on valentines day this year, celebrating and showing you love somebody does not have to correlate to unsustainable actions or creating waste.
Happy Valentine’s Day Everyone!
Love the Planet…
Maybe you don’t have someone to share Valentine’s day with this year. Let Earth be your Valentine by joining the YouthStrike4Climate this Valentine’s Day as they mark their One Year Anniversary since their first strike.
About the author: Megan Tarbuck is our Lifestyle Editor and is currently studying Human Geography and Environment at the University of York.