What do you do if you are a romantic and want to celebrate Valentine’s Day with your special someone? You don’t want to betray your heart-felt feelings of social and environmental sustainability, yet you want to show your heart-felt feelings of personal affection….
Organic, Fair Trade, and Eco-Friendly Ideas
There are many little things you can give that don’t betray your values of organic, fair trade, local, and even frugal (sometimes).
- Give love and affection. This is number one on my list. You don’t have to buy things to show your love. Do nice things, make nice things, have a nice time… these are often far more meaningful than bought things!
- Give organically grown potted plants or bulbs. Nothing says I love you like something that will live on long past Valentine’s Day! If you’re really industrious you can start these from seed yourself. Otherwise, buy them from your local farmer or farmer’s market.
- Send organic flowers. I came across Organic Bouquet recently. With their Flowers For Good program, 10% of their profits go to a non-profit of your choice. Their delivery is also carbon offset. You can also try CaliforniaOrganicFlowers.
- Give or plant seeds and flowers. Does your mother or sweetheart have an empty pot or bald winter spot in her yard? Plant some bulbs or cool-weather flowers! Or give her flower seeds for her to scatter about the yard in the spring. Here is a list of my favorite seed companies, all of which carry flowers.
- Sign her up for a flower CSA. Find a local CSA (Community Supported Agriculture) in your area at LocalHarvest, and find one that has flowers in addition to fruits and vegetables. What a lovely thing to have fresh local flowers every month!
- Give Sustainable Chocolates. Yes, the chocolate industry is full of really bad players – don’t let them leave a bad taste in your mouth when you want to enjoy the day! Look for Fair Trade, Equal Exchange, and Certified Organic labels. Your local natural foods store likely has several offerings.
- Give Handmade Gifts. Make something or buy something from a local member of your community which will show your affection and last.
- Give Fair Trade Gifts. There are several places online to find fair trade chocolates, jewelry, and much more. There are likely also places locally, so check around your neighborhood too. Global Exchange, The Rainforest Site, and Ten Thousand Villages are just a few of the many online stores offering fair trade gifts. You can look up a local store selling fair trade items here, but likely any local natural foods store will care fair trade chocolate and gifts.
- Give Sustainable Jewelry. If jewelry is the way you like to say I Love You, please consider the origins of your gift. Matt and my wedding rings are from an awesome online retailer called Green Karat – they were lovely throughout our transaction and I recommend them highly. (Our rings are made from recycled palladium and white gold.)
- When you inhale the sweet smell of a store-bought flower, you are also inhaling up to 127 different types of chemicals used on commercially-grown flowers, many of which are banned in the United States, like DDT. Organic Consumers Association
- From stem to store, flowers travel an average distance of 1,500 miles, adding significantly to global warming and pollution. Every three hours, one 35-ton cargo plane departs from Colombia, carrying flowers around the globe. Mother Earth News
- Two-Thirds of Colombian and Ecuadorian flower workers suffer from problems associated with pesticide exposure, including nausea, conjunctivitis, neurological disease, reproductive problems, and birth defects. Guardian
- Twenty percent of flower workers in Ecuador are children. International Labour Organization via Planet Green
- Fifty percent of workers in the Costa Rica flower industry have symptoms of pesticide poisoning. Organic Consumers Association In California, ornamental plants are among the top five crops associated with acute pesticide poisonings. Mother Earth News
- Cocoa farmers are often forced to sell their harvest to local middlemen who use rigged scales or misrepresent world prices, forcing poor working and living conditions. Furthermore, in 2001 the International Labour Organization and others reported child slavery on many cocoa farms in the Ivory Coast, source of 43% of the world’s cocoa. Fairtrade Labelling Organizations International
- Cocoa sold with the Fair Trade label still captures just 0.1% of the cocoa market. International Cocoa Organization It’s up to us to change that by redefining what is normal.
How Do You Celebrate Valentine’s Day?
Do you find yourself trying to choose between the environment and showing your passion? Does this list help you think of other ways to show your love? Do you have any other suggestions? Please share!