Turn Valentine’s Day from Red to Green

Photo credit: Bianca Mentil form Pixabay

Soon it’ll be Valentine’s Day, a day of love, affection, and happiness. Many view this day as an opportunity to shower loved ones with tokens of appreciation. However, many feel obligated to empty their wallets in the name of “love”.

 

Also, let’s not get started with the insane expectations placed on one’s partner on this day. Since when do roses, diamonds, and expensive dinners represent how much your boyfriend/girlfriend means to you? Why is love symbolized with the amount of money you spend rather than with real actions or words? 

 

It’s not only that, but this excessive consumption also affects our environment and the working conditions for those who produce these ‘symbols of love.’

 

We’re not against Valentine’s Day. On the contrary, the concept is beautiful; to celebrate love with your partner and spend romantic quality time together. But the question is, is Valentine’s really about love or expectations and consumerism? How can we make this day more special for us whilst at the same time helping our surroundings?

 

Expectations vs Reality

Money doesn’t Buy Happiness

People spend an incredible amount of money during Valentine’s Day. In 2018, Americans spent $143 each on the 14th of February. Fortunately, people didn’t always spend this much. However, since companies such as Flowers.com and Hershey’s successfully managed to market their product as part of this holiday, consumerism has shot through the roof. 

 

It’s All the Same

As consumers, we don’t even have a real choice to choose which products to buy. It’s imposed on us. Movies and pop culture have reinforced the idea that girls desire roses, chocolates, and jewellery during Valentine’s Day. That the key to a woman’s heart is through objects rather than actions. Cards, balloons, flowers, sweet treats, and gifts are all symbols that have turned consumerism into love; into material love.

Photo credit: Carl Russell and Jill Wellington from Pixabay

Our Actions Have Consequences

Roses

Bouquets are one of the most popular gifts on this day. But what is the price of a present that lasts a week? 

 

Firstly, chemical pollution is caused by the enormous amount of pesticides used to preserve roses. These pesticides cause health problems such as cancer and reproductive issues to workers. Flowers also consume a lot of water for irrigation, water that could be given to local populations. 

 

When roses became a pivotal aspect of Valentine’s Day, production moved to countries with steadier climate conditions and cheap labour such as Ethiopia, Kenya, Colombia, and Ecuador. Due to this production, the local communities displace their crops and other goods to grow flowers which contribute to malnutrition. All these problems are due to flowers; it sounds mad, but it’s true. 

 

So…

Rose bouquets are so last year. This year go visit the local farmers market and see what type of flowers are in season. If you want to do even better, buy a plant, it’ll last longer, and your partner will see it grow.

 

Cards

Valentine cards are overly used during this day to display a sign of affection to another person. But what happens after the day is done? They get thrown away and not recycled (as most are not recyclable). The same happens with balloons. 

So…

Don’t buy a mass-produced card, instead create your own out of reclaimed paper. If you’re not feeling that creative, then just search for cards made with recycled material. You can even send a fancy e-card; if the technology is not used for good, then what for?

 

Chocolate

The only appropriate aphrodisiac food to send to your lover on Valentine’s Day is chocolate. Thankfully, sending oysters, asparagus, or chili’s is not a thing; that would be weird. Yet, the mass production of chocolate boxes such as Lindt, Cadbury, Ferrero and many others produce waste accumulation due to over packaging and the use of non-recyclable materials.

All the components in a chocolate box such as the cardboard box, the lining paper, the outer film, and the plastic tray are parts that will end in the landfill. Ok, some of these can be recycled but not everything together. For instance, if the plastic tray is clear, then it can be recycled, but if it’s black, then it can’t. These companies make it more complicated for us to recycle, which increases the number of environmental problems.

So…

Instead of buying mass-produced chocolate boxes, why not purchase fair-trade? Go a step further and bake homemade chocolates with your partner, it will be a sweet treat for you both.

 

Gifts

What about all the other gifts given on Valentine’s Day that have to be wrapped. Jewellery, teddy bears, photo collages and other cutesy presents. All of these have to be hidden from the eye and concealed in boxes, wrapping paper, and plastic/paper bags. Wrappings that will be thrown away the following day.

So…

If you want to buy your loved one a present, then choose a fair trade or conscious product and wrap it in recyclable paper or use a reusable bag. However, it doesn’t have to be material, a positive action or a simple ‘I love you’ will be more than sufficient if it’s from the heart.

 

If You Want to Spice it Up…

Photo Credit: Congerdesign from Pixabay

Home Sweet Home

Everyone goes to a restaurant on Valentine’s Day as it sounds romantic and classy. The truth is that you’ll be sitting in a very crowded room, with people shouting over overpriced food. If you want to eat out, then book a table at a sustainable restaurant serving organic and seasonal produce. You’ll be surprised how good the food is when it’s locally sourced.

 

However, a better alternative could be to cook for your lover, or you could cook together. In this way, you will spend some quality time in a relaxed environment without spending a fortune. 

 

Live a Memorable Day

This year agree not to buy any material presents but rather plan an event to do in the afternoon/evening. You could visit a museum, art gallery or go to a live gig. Doing something out of the ordinary will be more memorable than an expected gift. 

 

Grow Your Love

Valentine’s day is represented with roses and flowers. Go against the conventional image and plant a tree. We already live in a world where deforestation is destabilizing our life-supporting systems; you genuinely don’t need to remove other plants. So, do the opposite and go plant a tree together and see it grow throughout the years. A perfect symbol of increasing love.  

 

Adopt an Animal Not an Object

There are so much cruelty and unfairness in this world due to fast consumerism and capitalism. Our linear economy is destroying animals’ habitats all around the world. Then why not use the money to adopt an animal of your and your partner’s choice and make a difference in your little way. Give love to someone who needs it. 

 

Love for Each Other and Love for Our Planet

As we saw before, Valentine’s Day is about consumerism and emptying your wallet. It’s about buying the same gifts as everyone else, of high expectations and later disappointment. These little actions of so-called ‘love’ affect our environment and the people working to produce them.

The positive side is we do have a choice; we can make a difference by making Valentine’s Day more special and sustainable for everyone. You don’t have to follow the crowd and feel forced to do something that doesn’t come naturally.

  • Go to an event
  • Cook at home
  • Plant a tree
  • Make a card

There are a million romantic and fun things you can do without hurting our home and our people. Be creative this year, make the 14th of February 2020 an unforgettable day that will be cherished in your hearts forever.

 

Photo Credit: Ron van den Berg from Pixabay

 

Bibliography

1millionwomen.com.au. (2015). Valentine’s day- An expression of love or consumerism? | 1 Million Women. [online] Available at: https://www.1millionwomen.com.au/blog/valentines-day-expression-love-or-consumerism/ [Accessed 30 Jan. 2020].

Buckingham, K. (2016). What Are the Environmental Costs of Valentine’s Day Flowers?. [online] World Resources Institute. Available at: https://www.wri.org/blog/2016/02/what-are-environmental-costs-valentines-day-flowers [Accessed 30 Jan. 2020].

Coulehan, E. (2019). Valentine’s Day Gifts Are Ruining the Environment — Here’s How. [online] Allure. Available at: https://www.allure.com/story/valentines-day-environmental-impact-flower-diamond-industry [Accessed 30 Jan. 2020].

Greenerideal.com. (2018). 6 Ways to Have a Sustainable Valentine’s Day | Greener Ideal. [online] Available at: https://greenerideal.com/guides/sustainable-valentines-day/ [Accessed 30 Jan. 2020].

Huffpost. (2017). 5 Sustainability-Minded Valentine’s Day Ideas. [online] Available at: https://bit.ly/3aZmMSz [Accessed 30 Jan. 2020].

Khazan, O. (2014). Valentine’s Day Isn’t About Love—It’s About Obligation. [online] The Atlantic. Available at: https://www.theatlantic.com/business/archive/2014/02/valentines-day-isnt-about-love-its-about-obligation/283826/ [Accessed 30 Jan. 2020].

Knight, D. (2016). 14 Sustainable Valentine’s Day Gift Ideas. [online] Bustle. Available at: https://www.bustle.com/articles/137743-14-sustainable-valentines-day-gift-ideas-for-earth-loving-lovers [Accessed 30 Jan. 2020].

Ross, C. (2019). Love Your Partner And The Planet – Ideas For A Sustainable Valentine’s Day. [online] Huffpost. Available at: https://bit.ly/2U81c8k [Accessed 30 Jan. 2020].

Tytyk, K. (2018). A history of consumerism of valentine’s day…. [online] Business 2 Community. Available at: https://www.business2community.com/consumer-marketing/history-consumerism-valentines-day-02013103 [Accessed 30 Jan. 2020].

Images

Congerdesign (2020). Baking. [image] Available at: https://pixabay.com/photos/pastries-bake-sweet-brownie-756601/

Mentil, B. (2020). Valentine’s Day. [image] Available at: https://pixabay.com/photos/heart-herzchen-love-romance-luck-1192662/ [Accessed 3 Feb. 2020].

Russell, C. (2020). Roses. [image] Available at: https://pixabay.com/photos/rose-roses-flowers-red-valentine-374318/ [Accessed 3 Feb. 2020].

van den Berg, R. (2020). Ladybugs. [image] Available at: https://pixabay.com/photos/ladybugs-ladybirds-bugs-insects-1593406/ [Accessed 3 Feb. 2020].

Wellington, J. (2020). Chocolates. [image] Available at: https://pixabay.com/photos/valentine-s-day-chocolates-candy-2057745/ [Accessed 3 Feb. 2020].

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