A Valentine For Your Boo and the Environment

I know that Valentine's Day is not everyone's jam, but can we all at least agree that we need to show a little more love toward each other? Or at least be nicer to each other?

Valentine's Day doesn't have to be all heart-shaped chocolates, teddy bears and Mylar balloons. Understated and sustainable can be just as, if not more, romantic! Show your boo just how much you care with items that don't harm the environment.

My husband and I have really started to enjoy quiet Valentine's Day evenings together at home. Our first few holidays together, he would take me out to delicious local restaurants. Last year, since it was on a Sunday, we fired up the grill for dinner and dined al fresco, with real plates, utensils, placemats, napkins and wine glasses, of course! We gave each other cards, mine made of recycled paper and featuring a tree joke that still makes me giggle.

This year, we'll probably do dinner at home again and find a good movie to watch. Note to self: Pick up organic wine for the occasion.


Easily the most popular Valentine's Day gift, flowers can put a strain on the environment from conventional farming, to traveling long distances, to requiring special packaging and shipping.

Go eco-friendly by ordering your bouquets or arrangements from a local florist and supporting a small business. Many times, you’ll be able to choose more seasonal or unique flower varieties and styles.

Or, consider giving flowers that last longer. Instead of a bouquet, visit a local nursery and pick out flower seedlings or a small potted plant. Your garden, or even your apartment patio, will have a cheerful reminder of your love all year long.

If you want to go the DIY route for flowers, use what you have! Our sweet neighbors recently celebrated their 50th wedding anniversary, and for their party, the wife created flower arrangements using spray painted secondhand teapots (I wonder where she got that idea from! Ha.) and greenery from their own yard.


Shop at local stores for gifts for your loved ones, or purchase locally produced items, like handmade jewelry.

Make your own gift with salvaged or reclaimed items.

Instead of giving something material, go for an intangible gift. Do something nice for your loved one; gift them a service like a massage, manicure or yoga class; or donate to a charity they support.

Instead of the heart-shaped box of mystery chocolates, go for organic or fair-trade sweets. Organic treats are made without additional chemicals and pesticides, and fair-trade means the workers who’ve made the item earn a fair living wage.

Pick out a sweet reusable coffee mug or water bottle.

Buy a Valentine card made of recycled paper, make a card using scrap wrapping or decorative paper, or go paperless by sending an e-card.


Going out for the evening? Dine at a local restaurant, and call ahead to see if they take reservations. (And if you tend to bring leftovers home, don’t be afraid to bring your own to-go container.)

Show off your sustainable style with a secondhand, vintage, or even rented/borrowed outfit and accessories.

If you’re not into crowded restaurants for Valentine’s Day, plan to cook a special dinner at home with your loved one. Shop at a local grocery store or your nearest farmer's market to find fresh, seasonal produce, meat, or seafood. Don’t forget your cloth bags! (A phrase I'm starting to feel like I need tattooed on my forehead. Practically my middle name at this point!)

Find an organic wine to pair with your meal. Organic vineyards don’t use artificial or hazardous chemicals on the grapes. And a bottle of organic wine is less expensive than you might think. If you’re not into wine, pick up a local craft beer. Your local grocery store or liquor store should be able to help you on both fronts.

Use real dinnerware, utensils, glasses, and napkins instead of disposable.

Take your dinner outside or plan a picnic if the weather is nice. (If it's cold where you are, and you're cursing me for suggesting eating outside - I'm sorry. Louisiana had a two-day winter this year. I'm forgetting that it's actually still winter right now.)

For Children

It's been years since I've dealt with classroom valentines, but they can definitely be wasteful and unhealthy, between the paper and the candy. Don't tell your children that I suggested recycling all of the valentines once the holiday has passed. (But I'm totally suggesting to recycle all those valentines instead of just throwing them out.)

Make classroom valentines a fun, eco-friendly project with your children. Get crafty with some decorative recycled paper, plantable seed paper, or even recycled cardboard. Children can draw their own pictures or write their own messages, or you can use a festive stamp and nontoxic ink pad.

Instead of candy, go for a more eco-friendly gift idea, like flower seed packets or colored pencils made of recycled content.

This Valentine’s Day (and every day), power your day with love — it’s a renewable resource!

What are your plans for this Valentine's Day?

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