Are you frantically scrambling for a last-minute gift to give for Valentine’s Day?
Some of the more popular items that are gifted on Valentine’s Day include bouquets of cut flowers and boxed chocolates—enveloped in cellophane, of course—and generic paper cards depicting cheesy messages of adoration like “I love you thiiiiiis much!”
Unfortunately, all of the gifted roses and chocolate boxes and Valentine’s Day cards will ultimately have an enormous environmental impact—and not a good one.
Worry not—for the eco-conscious consumer looking to celebrate Valentine’s Day, keep reading for five sustainable ways you can say “I love you” without generating unnecessary waste.
5 Ways To Celebrate Valentine’s Day Without All The Waste
1. Cook a delicious meal at home
The average restaurant meal is usually *much* larger than the standard serving size. Customers forgo their leftovers, and the kitchen generates surplus food scraps. All told, Americans waste roughly half a pound of food per meal in restaurants! Moreover, a 2014 study by the Food Waste Reduction Alliance found approximately 85% of unused restaurant food in the US is thrown out! (The rest is recycled or donated.)
In lieu of eating out on Valentine’s Day, cook a romantic dinner at home. Try making this delicious Sesame Tofu Stir Fry Fettuccine!
2. Send an eCard
Instead of sending a cliché Hallmark card that will almost certainly wind up in your loved one’s trash can, send your main squeeze a digital card! Sites like Paperless Post have super cute Valentine’s Day eCards you can send without adding to the landfills.
3. Give a potted plant
Bouquets of flowers require a lot of care and usually die within a few days, so gift potted plants instead! They have a naturally lower carbon footprint than their cut counterparts, which are largely imported from countries like Colombia and Ecuador. In addition, they can be taken home and replanted!
4. Make a donation in their honor
Celebrate your special someone by making a donation to a charity or nonprofit in their name! Not only is this a terrific way to give a gift sans generating waste, you’ll also be able to support a great cause! If you’re unsure of which cause to support, check out third party charity evaluators like Charity Navigator and the BBB. Many charities and nonprofits will also send a cute eCard to your honoree in acknowledgment of your donation!
5. Give vintage jewelry
The true cost of jewelry goes far beyond the price tag. A study found one single gold ring generates more than 20 tons of mine waste (!!!) due to the cyanide and other toxins used to retrieve the gold. Diamond mining is also incredibly damaging to the environment (not to mention highly exploitative) by causing soil erosion and deforestation. If you’re dead set on gifting jewelry to your valentine this year—opt for recycled jewelry. *Or* give vintage pieces to help minimize the impact your purchase will have on the environment. Just do a quick Google search to find vintage and antique jewelry shops in your area!
What sustainable Valentine’s Day gifts are you getting for your loved ones?