A Sustainable Galentine's/ Valentine's Day
Yes, it's that time of year again, Valentine’s day. Despite its seemingly innocent, love-fuelled intentions, the commercialism shrouding Valentine’s Day is a blight upon the environment, feeding directly into a harmful cycle of unnecessary and wasteful consumerism. Think of all the staple romantic gifts – the glittery cards, bouquets of flowers, heart shaped balloons, and teddy bears – all of which will likely end up being thrown away (no matter how lovely), and all of which head straight to the landfills. Every year, in aid of this single day, billions are spent on items contributing to a magnitude of unrecycled, non-biodegradable waste, polluting our environment.
So, this year, why not show love for not only your special partner, your gals or yourself, but the environment too? After the maddening rush of Christmas and New Year, it is no surprise if many of you are still anxiously fretting over gestures and gift ideas to give to your special someone as this love-centric day fast approaches. We're here to give you five last minute planet-friendly gift ideas to make your Valentine’s Day special for you and those you love.
By this point in this seemingly never-ending lockdown, you’re probably feeling restless and bored, constantly looking for new ways to entertain yourself and pass the time. In the lead up to Valentine’s day, why not get crafty and take the time to make your loved one a heartfelt, homemade gift? Why not give knitting a go; trying out cross-stitching; making your own candles or bath bombs; painting a picture; or creating a couple’s scrapbook by recycling materials lying around your home. With endless ‘how to’ resources and tutorials readily available online, now is the perfect time to give any of these fun and thoughtful DIY ideas a go. And if you ask me, the time and effort that goes into a homemade gift shows a love and care that outshines anything you could buy premade. Even if they turn out less than skilfully executed, as the age old saying goes, ‘it’s the thought that counts’.
Plan an experience at home
Unfortunately, Valentine’s Day this year might be looking a little different from what you hoped or expected– no cheeky romantic getaways or fancy restaurant meals. But, that doesn’t mean you can’t still make it a day to remember, full of festivities that are doable from the comfort of your home. As a blessing in disguise, quarantine has prompted many typically in-person experiences to provide virtual alternatives, such as online yoga or dance videos, follow along painting classes, cook along tutorials. Not only will doing a simple, organised activity like this be a way to break up the day and spice up your now overly familiar weekends in, but it's sure to make for some much needed excitement and laughter with your loved one, or be a well-deserved way to relax if you’re on your own. Here’s some links to various home-based experiences you can try out this Valentine’s Day:
Baking & Cooking
You can never go wrong with baked goods, because really, who doesn’t love to wake up to the smell of freshly made cakes or cookies? Instead of splashing the cash on expensive, over-commercialised chocolates, coated with a confusing and excessive mix of recyclable and non-recyclable packaging, put a little bit of elbow grease into making your own homemade sweet treats. By electing to bake, not only are you saving on money, avoiding wasteful and non-recyclable packaging, but you are sure to impress your partner a lot more than gifting them some quickly grabbed supermarket chocolates or cake. If you really consider yourself adverse to baking, chocolate covered strawberries are a simple yet effectively romantic delight for your partner and unbelievably easy to assemble. For all you singleton’s, baking is also such a fun, feel-good way to spoil and celebrate yourself.
If you do receive a box of chocolates, a tip to reduce waste is to make sure you separate the cardboard box, lining paper, and moulded plastic tray into the recycling bin, whilst putting all unrecyclable outer film, plastic and foil wrappers into the waste bin. And if you are still looking to buy some chocolates, try chocolatier brands like Divine which prioritise ethical and eco-friendly chocolate in completely recyclable packaging.
With dinner plans rather restricted this year, preparing a romantic candlelit dinner can be a great way to show love and appreciation for your partner (and a sure way to win you brownie points), or it can be a lovely and intimate activity to do together as a couple. Either way, be conscious of food waste whilst planning your special meal, purchasing only ingredients you don’t already own and sticking to package free food such as fresh produce and deli counter meat and cheeses (wine and cheese night is always a winner).
As cliché as they may be, flowers are a well-loved classic gift for Valentine’s Day, and it’s no surprise why considering how quickly they brighten someone’s day. But the sad reality is, stem-cut flowers quickly die, ending up in the bin after a matter of days. To avoid this eventual heartbreak, you could opt for a less depressing, long-lasting alternative like a potted houseplant, choosing something you feel symbolises your relationship or suits your loved ones personality – perhaps an orchid, a succulent, or even a cactus? You could even gift flowers, or, even better, a tree, to plant outside and watch grow. If you’re single and a plant lover like me, don’t hesitate to use Valentine’s as an excuse to treat yourself to a plant, because they make you smile and spruce up any space.
Don’t get me wrong, flowers are still a great gift, so if you opt for bouquets this year, order them from your local florist and ask for paper wrapping instead of plastic. Or, order some letterbox flowers from online florists which use recyclable packaging - Bloom & Wild Flowers is a great company. If you are lucky to receive some flowers this year, make sure to compost them once they die!
Cards & Wrapping Paper
Of course, cards are a staple go to purchase for your chosen valentine/ galantine, and utterly wasteful. Let’s be honest, we all mostly end up throwing them away, regardless of how sweet it is written, and the same can be said for wrapping paper, no matter how gorgeously your present is wrapped. So why not prevent some pointless waste and get creative – make your own card and wrapping paper recycling materials around your house: old newspaper, magazines, cardboard, recyclable brown paper, reusable old ribbon or non-plastic natural string. If you aren’t creatively minded, send an e-card instead, and perhaps even skip the wrapping altogether. Any cards and wrapping you receive, remember to recycle too!
Wishing you all a happy, love-filled and sustainable Valentine’s/ Galentine’s Day,