Unique ways to turn Valentine’s Day green

As February commences and stores fill with oversized stuffed animals and cardboard hearts filled with overpriced chocolates, Valentine’s Day is on the minds of all of who’ve been struck by Cupid’s arrow.

While it might be tempting to go all out for your special someone, a 2014 report by the Greeting Card Association named Valentine’s Day the second highest holiday for card consumers, behind Christmas, at an estimated 145 million cards per year. Greeting cards may seem like a harmless symbol of affection, but that large number has a great deal of environmental impact, such as carbon emissions from processing, delivery and mailing, to mention a few. 

Here are a few ways to show your love for your significant other while still showing your love for Mother Nature.

In love with the cocoa

Chocolate is a V-Day staple, not to mention a staple in the everyday diets of many, but what many don’t realize is that mainstream brands of chocolate can be a poor choice for the environmentally conscious. Recently, a great deal of discussion has risen surrounding chocolate producers taking advantage of child laborers, utilizing unsustainable growing methods and contributing greatly to global warming, putting the future of everyone’s guilty pleasure at risk.

In an effort to combat these growing issues within the chocolate industry, chocolatiers have taken to producing free-trade, locally made and sustainably grown chocolates that can be purchased in drug stores and supermarkets. Divine Chocolate is fair-trade and grown by Ghanaian cocoa farmers who receive a share of the profits. Dove Chocolate held the first International Workshop on Sustainable Cocoa Farming and places an emphasis on sustainable growing methods with their farmers. Hershey’s Chocolate also recently announced it will use 100 percent certified cocoa by the year 2020 in an effort to eliminate child labor. Making the right choice doesn’t mean going broke on gluten-free artisan chocolate.

Everything’s coming up roses

A dozen roses is the common gift for any Valentine, but oftentimes, flowers purchased from the local grocery store are produced using pesticides and excessive amounts of water that contribute to storm water runoff, which contaminates drinking water and degrades the land.

An eco-friendly floral alternative is to buy from one of many organic flower distributors such as californiaorganicflowers.com or organicbouqet.com. Unlike industrial flower companies, these organic flower companies don’t use pesticides and are grown in the U.S., meaning that the energy and resources required to ship flowers from foreign countries is greatly eliminated.

Off the beaten path

Make a simple date with meaning, keeping the environment in mind. Whole Foods Market offers vegan and organic cooking classes, which teach you how to create meals using locally grown and environmentally friendly ingredients.  For the animal lover in your life, adopt a wild species for him or her from the World Wildlife Foundation. Animals include snow leopards, three-toed sloths and even narwhals. Adoption prices are available from $25 to $100, and features a certificate and photograph of the animal you adopted.

Maybe a narwhal is a little much for your Valentine and you’re trying to keep it low-key. Other options to help stick to a budget could include going for a walk in the USF Botanical Gardens, having a picnic and canoeing at USF Riverfront Park or watching the sunset at the beach. Whatever you choose to do, there are ways to make a classic Valentine’s Day while keeping the environment in mind.