Every 14 February marks a time of love and romance for many couples. Unfortunately, it’s also an occasion that takes a toll on the planet due to wasteful packaging and floral shipments from a world away.
In fact, according to Waste360, 36 million heart shaped boxes and 180 million gift cards are exchanged per year in the US alone, on a day that generates enough carbon emissions to drive around the world in a car 3,993 times.
That’s not to say that the sustainable minded amongst us have to forgo the occasion. You can, in fact, mark the day without killing off animals or chalking up hidden carbon footprints. Here are several ways you can celebrate Valentine’s Day without ruining the planet.
First: Forget the flowers
A bouquet may be on everybody’s to-do list when it comes to romance but the impact the cut flower industry has on the planet is hardly rosy. These blooms not only require immense resources and farmhands to cultivate them, an entire army of wholesalers, airlines, cargo ships and traders are needed to deliver those few flower stalks into your hands.
In fact, one rose stalk requires seven to 13 liters of water, according to The Forward Lab, and imported flowers can generate as much as 67 times the amount of emissions as compared to locally grown ones.
Buy vegan chocolates
It’s hard to picture a Valentine’s Day celebration without chocolate, and these days you can certainly enjoy them without involving animal agriculture. Dark chocolates are sexy and alluring for their deep flavour; many of these are already accidentally vegan since they’re made without dairy. But if your date or loved one has a thing for milk chocolates, there are businesses that are putting out non-dairy versions. Have a look at our list of the world’s best vegan chocolates to get you started.
Purchasing from a vegan chocolate business not only means you’re doing right by the planet and the animals, but you’re also supporting a young business and helping it succeed. Some of these brands are already creating special Valentine’s Day packages so that’s all the legwork done for you.
Make a romantic vegan meal
Photo: Diva Plavalaguna
Not every locality has a romantic restaurant that can veganise their menu but cooking up a meal is an unparalleled gesture of love – especially if you’re not entirely used to pottering around in the kitchen. After all, it takes far more time, effort and advanced planning than if you were to make a reservation in a restaurant.
Come up with a theme for your meal and look up recipes. We have a treasure trove of vegan recipes on our site which our community can take advantage of, from dips for appetisers to a whole range of diverse cuisines and of course, desserts. We’ve even rounded up a list of chocolate desserts you can make for the occasion.
Now that you’ve nailed down what you’re making, be sure to purchase only what you need when grocery shopping – and don’t forget that reusable bag. Bulk stores are great for these occasions and allows you to weigh produce down to the last gram.
Keep the date eco-friendly
Sometimes, the simplest dates are the most romantic. For instance, when was the last time you went on a picnic with your other half where it’s just the two of you? Or how about a post-dinner stroll (which you cooked) where you can gaze at the stars like young dreamy lovers and simply talked? The choices are endless depending on your locality and your comfort level. There are also classes and workshops that you can sign up for where learning new skills can be a meaningful activity, or if the both of you are true sustainable warriors, you could even go on a beach or park cleanup. Either way, these simple dates are not only eco-friendly – they’re also the most memorable.
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Photo: Marko Klaric