Flowers – Somehow, roses have become the most popular flower people send on Valentines Day – even though most commercial roses are grown using heavy-duty pesticides, then transported by jet from one hemisphere to another, leaving a pretty heavy carbon footprint behind. Why not dish up some bulbs instead?
Fill a shallow bowl with small pebbles. Place five or six narcissus bulbs on top. The bulbs will begin to grow as soon as they’re watered. In six weeks, they’ll have sprouted beautiful foliage and fragrant blooms that keep Valentines Day alive long past Feb. 14.
Or, give a blooming houseplant, like peace lillies. They can be grown in a local greenhouse, and NASA says they’re good for purifying the air. If it’s blooming flowers you must have, look for those certified sustainably grown by Veriflora, Organic Bouquet, and TheBouqs.
Chocolate – There are many tragic stories about kids being used as slave laborers to harvest the cacao that’s used to make cocoa. Switch to chocolate produced from Fair Trade producers who don’t force children to work and who grow cacao organically. You have more options than ever before.
Here’s just a partial list of delicious organic chocolate to choose from: Remember, when you buy, look for the official organic seal of approval or read the label carefully. You’ll mostly find chocolate bars, syrups, and sauces, rather than heart-shaped boxes full of individual bites. That’s ok. Create a fun basket of 4 or 5 different organic, fair trade bars, or a variety of organic chocolate sauces you can add to your favorite organic ice cream.
Jewelry – Is this the year you’re going to give your loved one a gorgeous bracelet or a beautiful ring? Skip the mall and head to vintage stores that sell antique jewelry, or drop by an estate sale to find exquisite settings that get more beautiful with age. Look for jewelry made by companies like Smart Glass, which crafts stunning pieces out of recycled glass bottles and antique brass.
Check out Brilliant Earth, which makes jewelry for men as well as women out of recycled precious metals and gemstones sourced from mines that adhere to strict labor, trade and environmental protocols. Find more options here.
Cards – Why waste paper when you can send whatever kind of card you want electronically? From funny to romantic, ecards run the gamut, and you can time them for precise delivery into your intended’s email box. Many ecard companies offer free cards, but you can upgrade to more personal or special messages at a small cost.
Alternatively, make your own card out of materials you have around the house that mean something to you and to your loved one as well. For example, have you gone to several concerts or movies together? Cut a heart out of red construction paper and affix the ticket stubs to the front, with a personal message that no card company would ever think of.
Donations – Valentines Day shouldn’t put a dent in your pocketbook or the planet. Don’t drive yourself crazy running around buying expensive presents packed in a lot of wrapping that will just end up in the trash. Instead, give your loved one a donation to his or her favorite charity.
Be aware that some groups, like the American Lung Association and Moms Clean Air Force, are working to reduce air pollution. What’s the connection to the heart? Breathing dirty air actually leads to heart attacks and heart disease. Support a group working to protect air quality, and let your heart beat a little lighter