So, you care deeply about how your purchases affect people, society and the environment. You are health conscious and try to reduce your exposure to harmful chemicals. With Valentine’s Day coming up, you want to show your love, friendship or appreciation while still sticking to your values. So let’s dive in.
The Classics: Flowers and Chocolates
The problem with flowers is not only the classic agricultural issues of how it is grown and fair labor practices, there is also the issue that cut flowers have a short life, which affects transportation. Flowers are flown all over the world, often making multiple transcontinental trips, before they even reach your doorstep, and often need a heavy dose of chemicals to survive the trip. This is a good reason to support local farmers first of all, and then look for fair trade and/or organic options next.
To find a florist in your area who supports local farms, go to SlowFlowers.com where you can search by your location. Admittedly, getting fresh, local flowers works better in some locals than others, as I sit at my desk in Minnesota. But even northerners can bookmark this site for events during the local growing season. Otherwise you can have sustainable, ethical flowers via shipping by checking out BloomsyBox.
Let’s get a little creative in the flower department here: you can send a card that opens up to a pretty paper bouquet or flower arrangements made from natural materials. Try LovePop or FreshCutPaper or do a search on Etsy for “pop-up flower card” or “paper flower bouquet.” Remember in Etsy to specify the shop location under “filters.” You can even type in your town or state and look for something local!
Now let’s talk about chocolate. Look for fair trade, as child labor is a wide-spread problem worldwide in cocoa production. (for more information, look up “child labor in cocoa production” on Wikipedia. Avoid that, OK?
My favorite organic chocolate shop is Lake Champlain Chocolates. OMG, so good, I'm drooling on my keyboard just thinking about it. You can order directly, but this is one that you may be able to find in your local co-op. Or maybe there is an ethical, organic chocolatier near you!
Gift an experience: Novelty = Romance
Try the gift of an experience rather than physical things. You will not only be reducing overconsumption, you will also infuse a little romance. It doesn’t have to be big, nor do you necessarily want it to be: big changes are stressful.
Novelty is anything that is out of your routine such as going dancing, skiing or seeing a play. I will never forget the first time I watched a Cirque do Soleil show and how magical it was. Have an indoor picnic on the floor at home, which is something you can even do with little ones running about. Take a cooking class together. Or learn any new skill together, which will also just be good for each of you as individuals. A visit to a greenhouse at an arboretum in the winter is one of my favorite things to do on a bitter cold winter day. I hope this gets your creative juices flowing!
Clothing and Jewelry
You can broaden another's experiences even with clothing and accessories. Introduce your partner to a brand that is new to them. By doing a little research and finding gifts that match your partner’s values, you are demonstrating attentiveness. Everyone wants to be seen for who they are. What could be more romantic than that?
Don’t shy away from vintage jewelry– a preloved piece is just all the more loved. (And eco-friendly to boot!) Just be sure to look it over before you wrap it. Some shops will clean and polish before sending, while others do not. To give a pre-owned piece a gentle cleaning, put a little distilled water in a small non-metallic bowl with a drop or two of dish soap. Gently brush it clean with an old toothbrush. Dry with a soft cloth and give it a little rub with a polishing cloth, if you have one.
(For more about jewelry, see previous articles here.)
My favorite clothing pics from my shop for Valentines day are:
For the Kids
I love doing fun food presentations for the kids on Valentine’s Day. Oh when they were little it was so fun! Even now, as teens, they love it– they just might be a little more reticent to admit it.
The best ideas are on Pinterest for this. There are ideas galore! My household's favorite is to have a home-made parfait ready for them when they arrive home from school. It's so simple:
Whip up some cream with about a tablespoon of sugar and a teaspoon of vanilla. I mix half of the whipped cream in with plain greek yogurt (the cream makes it sweet enough, but if you prefer, use sweetened vanilla yogurt.) Get out your nicest glasses and get ready to layer. Use a pastry bag, a wide-mouth canning funnel or some improvisation so that you keep the sides of the glass clean and pretty. Base later is the yogurt mixture, then fresh berries of your choice, then top with whipped cream.
It makes them feel so special! You can prep this the night before and stick it in the fridge if they will be home before you (probably most of you, now that most people are back to in-office work). Just hide it and leave a note to help them find it.
Ok, have a wonderful time planning Valentine's Day. Also, remember to show some love to your single friends– they can use the little token of appreciation or even just a “hey, I’m thinking about you.” This might make their day.
Most of all, enjoy the day, with all the people you love.