If you're trying to cut back on the amount of stuff you bring into your life and into your home, traditions that involve gift-giving can be a bit of a challenge. Valentine's Day is no exception, with supermarket shelves heaving under shrink-wrapped boxes of chocolates, plastic tchotchkes, and all things pink, red, and heart-shaped.
As February 14th approaches, especially if you've been busy (wasn't it only just New Year?), it can be tempting to grab something convenient and cute for your sweetheart this Valentine's Day. After all, one of the reasons we tend to make unsustainable decisions is out of convenience - how else would we end up with bottled water? But just because you've been caught a little slow planning a gift for your valentine doesn't mean you can't make heartfelt and eco-friendly romantic gestures.
To help you find the perfect gift for that special someone we've compiled this list of last minute eco-friendly ideas so you can share the love this Valentine's Day.
1. Recreate your first date
One of the most memorable moments for any couple is the first hours that they spent with each other. Valentine's Day is a great opportunity to show thoughtfulness and fondness for your shared memories by paying homage to your first date.
Revisit the restaurant you went to, or even try recreating what you ate at home. If your first date involved a movie you could rewatch the movie you first saw together with some homemade popcorn.
2. Plant a tree (or two!)
Instead of just spending money on each other, you can work together to help reforestation efforts. Organizations like One Tree Planted allow you to sponsor tree-planting efforts around the world. The best part about this eco-friendly gift is you can organize it quickly and easily online and then reveal the gift in a card, perhaps with a small pot plant.
3. Choose eco-friendly candles
If you can't imagine a Valentine's Day without a candlelit dinner but are concerned about the toxicity of burning paraffin wax candles, seek out eco-friendly candles made from soy or bees wax. These waxes are biodegradable and compostable, and do not release toxic fumes while burning.
You can also create mood lighting at home using warm white Christmas tree lights. After all, the most eco-friendly option is the one you already own.
4. Book an experience
In an increasingly time-poor world, simply making time for each other can mean more than any one object. Gifting experiences instead of things is a great way to spend time together and show your affection. Book ski lessons together, go skydiving, take a cooking class, do an escape room, get a massage together, or book a bicycle tour of your own city.
Not only are experiences an excellent eco-friendly gift option, but you can gift the idea on Valentine's Day with a cute homemade voucher and then schedule the actual experience for a time when you're free.
Perfect for if you're out of time planning something before February 14th!
5. DIY eco-friendly seed bombs
If you're fond of a little DIY project, why not make up compostable seed bombs. These handy, seed-packed hearts come with everything you need to see your love bloom come spring. A great way to recycle used paper, seed bombs a great eco-friendly project that kids love to help out with too!
How to make DIY seed bombs:
You will need:
Heart-shaped silicone ice-cube tray or chocolate mold
1. In a blender combine shredded paper and water (about one cup of water to four A4 pages worth of paper) and blend until a watery pulp.
2. Line a colander with a clean tea towel and place the colander over a bowl or the sink. Pour pulped paper into the colander.
3. Sprinkle pulped mixture with wildflower seeds and mix through with hands.
4. Use the towel to squeeze excess water out of the pulp.
5. Press the pulp into the heart-shaped mold and allow to dry. When dry, gently remove the seed bombs from the mold and keep in a dry place.
6. To plant, bury the seed bomb about a quarter inch deep in a pot or garden bed and water thoroughly.
Note: The bombs will naturally take the color of the paper used to make them, but you can add your own natural color by adding a dash of beetroot juice (pink), turmeric (yellow) or matcha powder (green) to the blender in step 1.
6. Write a love letter
Taking the time out of your day to sit and handwrite a letter to your loved one can be even more valuable a gift than some clunky, new object. Make it cute and incorporate a word search with some words and phrases unique to your relationship. Use it as an opportunity to express gratitude to your significant other for the great things they bring to your life and talk about your dreams for your future together.
Make it extra eco-friendly and use recycled paper - but maybe not the back of your electricity bill. Love letters are also easy to keep and, like the fine wine you didn't have time to buy, also get better with age!
7. Gift eco-friendly jewellery
What a time to be alive for creative jewellers and recycled materials! Online marketplaces like Etsy are excellent for finding creative, eco-friendly gifts made from rescued materials. Because so many of these small businesses use reclaimed materials you can be confident that your gift will be one of a kind! Do your research and pick out a neat eco-friendly gift and support a small business at the same time.
8. Forget flowers, gift a living plant
Grabbing a bunch of flowers from the corner store is such a last-minute romantic gesture trope we can imagine a Valentine's without a bouquet might seem a little odd. However, when you consider the environmental impact of the cut flower industry, you might find it easier to say goodbye to the dozen long-stemmed roses this year.
Instead, consider gifting a living plant. Even if your valentine doesn't love gardening, there are plenty of low-maintenance plants, like succulents, that barely need any attention. Better yet, snake plants, peace lilies and spider plants are easy to care for and help clean the air in your home. Talk about an eco-friendly swap!
9. Make a mixed tape
Gone are the days of waiting by the radio to hit "record" and tape your love's favourite songs onto a cassette (any one?) Thankfully online services like Spotify make it really easy to create eco-friendly versions of the same thing! Create a playlist of songs you know they love, new songs that make you think of them, or songs that are special to you in your relationship.
When you go to such an eco-friendly extreme as a digital playlist it can be hard to think of how to deliver such a gift. Get creative! Share the playlist address by writing it on a cake or cookie, written inside a love letter, or slipped on a tag around a happy house plant.
As we move toward a world that is more conscious of environmental impact, we also have to move away from the kind of unconscious consumption that can so easily crop up when traditional holidays come around. Don't forget that Valentine's Day is a chance to show your love, and in a world overflowing with stuff, the most valuable gifts you can give are your time and consideration.