Every Hallmark holiday has a massive carbon footprint – Valentine’s Day lockdown edition will be no different.
What is different, however, is that this year we have more control than ever before over the amount of waste we create. No excessive portions at restaurants; no glossy tickets to throw away and no decorative garnishes in plastic-laden cocktails. This year, as we celebrate Valentine’s Day from the comfort of our own homes, there are several easy swaps you can make to show your love for the planet
If you’re going to see your loved one face-to-face, there’s no need to scribble your feelings on a card that’s destined for the recycling bin.
However, if you really feel you must give your partner a card this year, there are some alternatives to the standard shop-bought Valentines, which, let’s face it, are fairly pricey for something that’s going to be thrown away after a few days.
You can go digital! There are plenty of subscription-based services which allow you to send e-cards for all occasions. These can be sent via email or they can be posted to the Facebook wall of the object of your affection.
Or, if you’re crafty, you can always make a card out of materials you have at home!
Yes, it will ultimately still end up being in the bin, unless your partner is a hoarder, but it will eliminate all of the carbon-producing processes which go into manufacturing and distribution of shop-bought cards.
This way, you have total control over what your card is made of so, you can be sure the materials are fully recyclable.
What’s more romantic than a big bouquet of red roses?
Perhaps some flowers that won’t die after a week and arrive swaddled in cellophane.
This year, why not consider seeds or a potted plant for your partner’s garden -or, more likely, windowsill? The pot can be used again and the longevity of the plant is a more romantic symbol of your relationship.
Flowers in a vase perish. Garden plants, if nurtured and cared for, will last a lot longer and bloom again and again.
For the crafty ones among us, there are plenty of tutorials on YouTube which show you how to make a bouquet of flowers out of recycled paper or newspaper. Not only is this a big help for the environment, but paper flowers will last as long as your relationship and it shows greater effort, which your partner is sure to appreciate.
3 WRAPPING PAPER
The glossy wrapping paper and anything with plastic-based glitter, such as most glitter, cannot be recycled. This must be taken into consideration if you’ve bought your loved one a present that requires some kind of wrapping.
Instead, why not invest in a few reusable gift bags or boxes? These can be just as attractive-looking and will save you money, and carbon footprint points, in the long run.
If you absolutely must go the traditional wrapping paper route, make sure the paper you buy is (a) recyclable and (b) comes in little or no packaging. Even if the paper itself is recyclable, the light plastic film around it is not.
Before your partner recycles your carefully-selected wrapping paper, make sure all sticky tape is removed because, once again, this cannot be recycled. Don’t let tape be the downfall of all your effort to get plastic-free wrapping paper!
As a lover of chocolate myself, I understand the desire to satisfy your sweet tooth for Valentine’s Day. I really do.
But the special Valentine’s Day chocolates – drizzled and dipped and decorated in heart-shaped boxes – all come with ludicrous amounts of packaging. There’s more plastic than consumables in those boxes.
Instead of buying into the over packaged and overpriced Valentine’s Day chocolate market, why not bake something sweet for yourself and your partner?
Flour, sugar, eggs, milk… all the basics are probably already in your kitchen and the packaging of these products are almost always recyclable or compostable.
Again, this shows your partner you’ve gone to a greater effort, and you’ve saved yourself some money and a plastic-induced headache.
If you’re not a baker, you can just pay extra attention to the options in your supermarket.
While Valentine’s chocolates will probably always come buried in plastic, if you look carefully you should be able to find some chocolate that comes in 100% recyclable materials.
This one’s simple. We’re all going to be stuck inside ordering takeaway for this Valentine’s Day, right?
Well, no, not necessarily. Takeaways come with a small mountain of trash: grease-stained bags, cartons, receipts, napkins, condiment sachets, plastic straws, you name it.
Cooking at home drastically cuts down the amount of waste produced by your meal. It means you’re using up what you already have and you know exactly what you’re consuming.
It’s healthier for you, it’s healthier for your wallet and it’s healthier for the planet. Funny how often those three coincide.
So, that’s five tips that I hope were helpful so, hopefully we can all show the planet a bit of love this year on Valentine’s Day.