One of the big intentions of a zero waste or sustainable lifestyle is not buying more than you absolutely need. Consumerism and over consumption are a big part of the issues our planet and environment are facing. However, buying gifts on Valentine’s Day for the ones you love doesn’t have to be commercial or unnecessary. Here are some ideas for a zero waste Valentine’s Day.
In these strange and difficult times of Covid19 it might feel harder to plan a good experience to share with your eco-conscious partner. We know we can’t go to the theatre or a gig for example, but it doesn’t have to end there. Zero waste experiences can include all sorts and depending on your region, some venues or events might still be open. You could look for an interactive museum or an exhibition or art gallery that interests your partner. If you’re in a lockdown or more restricted area by mid-February, then a simple hike or picnic on the beach or in the countryside can still represent a special occasion. After all, spending time together in nature has got to be a win-win. And the beauty of living in Spain means we have a pretty good chance of decent weather. If you opt for a romantic picnic, you could prepare some special homemade sweets and cakes or hide handwritten love notes into the food parcels or containers. Why not wrap a gift such as a reusable bottle or stainless steel straws, or even these super cute bamboo sporks. Use your imagination to turn a picnic into a personalised treat for the one you love.
If you’re unable to get out into nature for a picnic, then make time to have a sit-down meal together at home and really go to town on personalising the experience. We all know that takeaway food can be a huge culprit for plastic and waste so cook something from scratch. You could even go to a local organic market together and choose what to buy as part of the event. Decorate the table with plastic-free decorations such as pinecones, painted pebbles or dried flowers and handmake a card or gift. One of the most common gifts on Valentine’s Day is chocolate. If your partner is a chocolate lover, opt for Fairtrade, certified Organic and if possible, vegan chocolate to treat them. Many eco-friendly options these days also come with plastic-free packaging. Buy local where you can and support small business too.
This has to be one of the most common gift choices for Valentine’s Day, but how can we be sure our jewellery purchases are ethical, sustainable, zero waste and plastic free? One of the best ways is to look up smaller, local jewellers in your area and simply give them a call or get in touch and chat to them about it. Most will be happy to share their eco-credentials with you, especially when it comes to the ethical mining of materials. If you buy local, then it’s usually pretty easy to request something to come packaged plastic-free too. We’re so lucky in my area (Manilva, Málaga, Spain) to have ethically-minded jewellery maker Tracey Graham. She has a range of pieces that use eco-silver (100% recycled silver) and are packaged fully plastic-free for delivery in Spain or further afield.
- Online classes
Where before you might have considered taking up tango or watercolour painting together, for now these types of classes or events have to be online. I recently took part in a cocktail making evening with the brilliant Southside Bars. Based in Ibiza and UK, they tailor-make the class to your needs and send you a box ahead of time so you have all the equipment and ingredients that you need. You could request for the contents to be plastic-free and you could source the ingredients as locally as possible to you. It’s a fun evening for couple or a group. Other online class ideas can include cooking, yoga, painting, languages, origami and crafts of all kinds. Get searching for a zero-waste online class to thrill your partner.
The top three most popular gifts for Valetine’s Day are chocolates, flowers and jewellery, so it would be no surprise if you’ve considered flowers as a gift before, and, on the surface, they would seem like a plastic-free option. But, they are often not very sustainable at all. Fresh cut flowers are often imported from far afield (largest exporters of cut flowers after The Netherlands are Columbia and Ecuador) so carbon emissions will be high not only from production but transportation too. The other main issue with mass-grown flowers is that they are often heavily treated with pesticides. These can be harmful not only for those receiving the gift, but also for workers – not to mention the toxic impact on water ways and land in our natural environment. Finally, it’s the packaging that is often a problem with cut flowers. If you have been lucky enough to find a local florist selling locally grown organic flowers, then hopefully they will consider sustainable packaging too. Recycled paper would be your best option, and even better would be to buy from a farmers’ market with no packaging and wrap them yourself with something reusable or even newspaper for an eco-chic look.
If your partner likes books then you’ve got an easy task ahead of you. There are so many books on the market that teach about how to live more sustainably or more “green” or give you ideas on how to have a zero waste home. One of these would make a great gift and our favourites at Eco Passion are:
- The Sustainable(ish) Living Guide by Jen Gale
- Is it Really Green? by Georgina Wilson-Powell
- Zero Waste Home by Bea Johnson
Hopefully this list and these ideas will help you to consider eco-friendly gifts for the love of your life (even if that’s yourself!) and the beauty is that all these ideas can themselves be recycled for birthdays, anniversaries or any occasion you like.
Tell us in the comments how you plan to enjoy a zero waste Valentine’s Day this year. Feel free to share this post in your networks too.