LOVE it or loathe, it’s hard to avoid the hype that surrounds February 14, the day cynics believe Hallmark invented to encourage us to appreciate the love of our lives.
This year, consider showing your appreciation to the one you love in ways that don’t have a negative impact on our climate.
With a little bit of imagination and forward planning, it is possible to have fun on Valentine’s Day without it costing a fortune economically or environmentally.
After a bleak January, celebration of love and friendship is a good thing that doesn’t need to add to mountains of waste or be soppy, or superficial.
It is unnecessary to opt into the belief that the only way to show your love is to buy a load of tat. In fact, any of the below suggestions can be carried out year round. Why wait for one day in the year to offer declarations of undying love?
Here are fourteen suggestions for a carbon neutral February 14
1. FAIR TRADE
Ensure the chocolates you give are Fair Trade and, even better, made locally.
Locally made chocolate has virtually no carbon footprint.
Fair Trade ensures that the cocoa producers receive a just price for their produce that is sustainably produced on land not required to feed their families, and they are fairly treated in the process.
2. SAYING IT WITH FLOWERS...
If you give flowers, check with the florist where they come from.
For Valentine’s Day, thousands of roses are grown in Kenya and flown into Europe. Not only is that a huge carbon footprint, but the workers who grow these roses can be poorly paid.
And they use land to grow these flowers that could otherwise be used as small farms to feed their own families.
3. PICK IT YOURSELF
Staying it with flowers, at least if they come from the Netherlands, is a smaller carbon footprint. But why not pick some flowers that you’ve grown in your own garden, wrap them in fully recyclable paper, and tie them with a some nice ribbon?
4. BRING A VASE
Still with flowers, bring your own vase to the florists, instead of bringing home a bouquet wrapped in yards of cellophane or plastic.
5. RECYCLE IT
Ensure wherever you buy cards that they are 100% recyclable, including the envelope. And that they are made using paper from sustainable forests.
6. OFFSET IT
Buy your lover carbon offsets. An offset is equal to one metric ton of emissions, that a company such as Cool Planet then uses to help developing communities buy clean-burning cooking stoves, or aiding biodiversity with tree planting.
7. SAY IT WITH TREES
Why not buy your loved one a local tree? Do a bit of guerrilla gardening by planting it in a public space. Adding their name to the tree is a very public declaration of your love.
8. CARD FREE
Don’t buy a card at all. Either make your own from the scrap paper and card you already have in the house, or devise your own email card. Be inventive and different in the verses you compose. Make them poetic instead of the sappy, saccharine greetings on shop-bought cards.
9. DIY IT
Instead of a cheesy teddy bear with heart-shaped declarations of love, make your own through knitting, sewing, carving, modelling or whatever craft takes your fancy.
It may look a little wobbly if craft is not your forte,but at least it will be unique and made with love.
Stay at home and have a meal of your choice, with ingredients sourced at the farmers’ market and all produced within a five or ten mile radius.
11. LOVE NATURE
Just go for a walk together and appreciate the beauty of nature all around you. In urban areas, admire other people’s gardens or the colour of their houses. Listen to birdsong as nature begins the fecund mating season.
12. TAKE A DIP
Go for a cold water swim together, preferably in the ocean but lakes and rivers are a good option also. Ensure you take all safety precautions and don’t swim in any areas that are unsafe.
The benefits of cold water swimming are much written about of late, among them are increased mental and physical wellbeing and greater energy levels. Experiencing this together will surely deepen and strengthen any relationship.
13. NEW HOBBY
Take up a new hobby together such as volunteering with your local Tidy Towns. Not only will this enhance the area in which you live, but Tidy Towns also plant bee-friendly areas and urban orchards, enhancing biodiversity.
14. WRITE IT DOWN
Present your lover with 12 envelopes, one for each month of the year. Inside put affirmations of your love and commitment in your own words. List actions you will take that month to demonstrate that love — eg, offering to accompany your lover to something you would not normally attend, or to do all the housework for the following 30 days. Or whatever works for you!