Embracing a spirit of love – on Valentine’s Day or any other day – should mean more than paper hearts and grocery store flowers. Here are a few simple steps to Green Valentine’s Day, making Valentine’s Day (or any holiday, anniversary, birthday, etc.) more meaningful for your beloved while making the world a better place:
Or, if you know someone who truly loves flowers, use a little creativity, and a little conscientiousness. The vast majority of bouquet flowers in the US are actually grown in other countries – primarily Kenya, where the predominantly female workers are subjected to deplorable conditions and exposed to toxic chemicals that are banned in the U.S. and Europe.
Plus, bouquets don’t last. They are beautiful for a week or two, then they’re compost. Wouldn’t a small, thoughtful gift be a much more meaningful token? Consider purchasing a handmade and/or recycled gift from a local shop. Or, if internet shopping is more your speed, order something from a site that supports a good cause, like The Animal Rescue Site, The Hunger Site, The Rainforest Site, or Global Girlfriend.
Or a gift from a favorite charity – a t-shirt from the Human Society, a tote from Amnesty International, or a book from Citizens for Midwifery.
Find more unique ideas for gifts that give back here.
And if you absolutely must send flowers, there are plenty of resources for sending ethically grown flowers, Green Valentine’s Day gifts, and even bouquets that donate a portion of their profits to different charities!
Typical Valentine Cards are just a pit of waste – printed on bleached paper, not from recycled materials, with inks that degrade the environment. How does that show love?
There are so many wonderful alternatives to boring paper hearts for V-Day. For a mountain of card alternatives (including my favorite, home made recycled seed paper!), as well as crafty recycling and upcycling ideas, click here.
Or, forgo the paper products all together, and:
Is more stuff really the answer? People are accustomed to giving and receiving STUFF, tangible, material, stuff. But most of us have more stuff than we know what to do with, and science and religion both tell us that what we really treasure - what truly brings us joy – is experience.
Go on a date! Check out a local, organic winery. Volunteer together at an animal shelter. Take kayaks out and clean up some litter. Have a picnic – have a surprise romantic picnic. Go to a museum. Go hiking. Go to the library. Go to the planetarium. Plant something together. Watch a Roller Derby match or some other local sport. Find a trivia night at a local Bar (we have been going every two weeks, and it is an awesome date night). The possibilities are endless, and way better than dead flowers.
Boxes of chocolate are another quintessential Valentine’s Day gift, but please thing twice before you reach for the box of Hershey’s. Many major chocolate companies source their chocolate from plantations staffed with child slaves. Children as young as 8 are taken from their parents, forced to live in deplorable conditions, and given only enough food and shelter to keep them alive, all so we can enjoy cheap sugar filled junk food.
But there are ethical chocolate companies out there, and they’re not that hard to find! Equal Exchange offers a ton of options, including Valentine’s Day candy. For a long list of ethical candy companies, click here.
5. SPREAD MORE LOVE
Valentine’s Day is, in theory, a day about love. But there is no rule that says it has to be limited to romantic love – especially cheesy, over choreographed B-movie romantic. Grab those dear to you, and make this day deeply meaningful for a greater population.
V-Day - Violence against women and girls, intimate violence between any two individuals of any gender, is really the antithesis of love. So what better day than Valentine’s Day to take a stand against such acts?
A lifetime ago, as a budding feminist at Purdue University, I had the great joy of performing in the Vagina Monologues as part of the V-Day movement three years in a row. It was an amazing experience, and one I miss powerfully every Valentine’s Day. Perhaps one day, there will be a long post about the amazing experience and personal growth being involved in the movement and the affiliated groups gave me. For now I will simply say, I can think of few more positive ways to spend Valentine’s Day, regardless of one’s gender. Check out the V-Day website and find a Monologues performance near you – and don’t forget to pick up some vagina shaped chocolates (but be sure to ask if they used ethically sourced chocolate)!
30 Days of Love – The interfaith celebration of the power of love to end oppression worldwide also culminated on Valentine’s Day, and there will be powerful and moving events being held all over the U.S. (and other countries) to mark the culmination. With two weeks left in the campaign, join with your loved ones and integrate making the world a better place into your everyday life. I will also offer a free guest post to anyone who wants to share how they embraced 30 Days of Love (or any other d0-good Valentine’s Day alternative).