How To Have a Green Valentine’s Day Without Roses

Are you a hopeless romantic, here on the internet, searching for the best roses for Valentine’s Day? Well forget it – and read this article instead.

NOTICE: The author accepts no responsibility for i) the breakdown of your marriage or relationship, or ii) non-response to amorous advances, as a result of reading this article.

Roses are red

Violets are blue

Neither are green

So I’ve adopted an animal for you

Granted, not the most catchy of Valentine’s Day rhymes, but I do hope to see this or similar repeated many times on February 14.

Neither are green? Not in the environmental sense. There’s a cost to sending your Valentine roses, and I don’t just mean the over-inflated prices to take advantage of all the suckers who feel like buying flowers is something they HAVE to do.

Let’s be honest, if you want to prove to your partner (or potential love interest) how much they mean to you, there are 365 days in the year to do this.

Waiting for the commercially hijacked Valentine’s Day so you can spend insane amounts of money on glittery cards, roses, cuddly toys and plastic heart-shaped trinkets destined for the garbage… well, it’s not showing much initiative or imagination is it?

Besides which, you won’t be helping the planet. Seriously, what is the point in professing your undying love for someone, while contributing to problems they’ll encounter in years to come as a result of climate change?

And for those of you who still don’t believe the reality of an impending human-influenced climate emergency, have a quick check here.

Photo by Jesse Goll on Unsplash

But what about love?! Love conquers all, right? Valentine’s Day is a traditional motel stop in the year to remind us all of the power of love. Or lust. We’re not going to wipe it from the calendar are we?

Of course not. Nobody is saying Valentine’s Day should be dumped by text or left-swiped on Tinder.

But if you’re going to send cards and presents, at least make them earth-friendly. If you’re sharing the love around, save a little bit for the planet, hey? Your relationship with Mother Earth lasts longer than any other connection you’ll experience.

Photo by Michael McAuliffe on Unsplash

How to have a green Valentine’s Day

People in the United States spend more than $27 billion each year on Valentine’s Day gifts, while people in the UK shell out more than £1billion. Much of this expense goes on flowers, chocolates/candy and cards. It’s a mega huge business. So how can we love the planet while simultaneously loving each other?

Valentine’s Flowers

The blooms you’ll tend to buy for Valentine’s Day — mainly roses — have almost certainly travelled thousands of miles and trodden a massive carbon footprint, just so you can receive the reply: “Ah… roses… how, er, original…”

Investigative reporter Amy Stewart revealed to the Washington Post that 30 cargo jets fly from Colombia to Miami alone, every single day in the three weeks leading up Valentine’s Day — with each plane carrying more than a million flowers.

A similar amount fly out from Ecuador, where they don’t even celebrate Valentine’s Day. In fact, Ecuadorian roses are flown and shipped across the globe. Kenya and the Netherlands are also huge flower producers.

Back at Miami International Airport, the flowers are then loaded into 200 refrigerated trucks each day, from where they are delivered to stores and florists, packaged and shipped even further.

Amy Stewart revealed that The International Council on Clean Transportation estimated that those three weeks of flower flights pump 360,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The refrigeration trucks burn even more fuel, of course.

Carbon dioxide is the most significant greenhouse gas, which is causing human-influenced climate change.

Valentine’s Cards

According to Hallmark, 145 million Valentine’s Day cards are exchanged in the United States every year — plus millions more across the countries where February 14 is celebrated — most notably Canada, Mexico, United Kingdom, France, Australia, Italy and Denmark.

That’s a lot of trees! And trees are what we need to trap the carbon dioxide from the atmosphere.

Photo by Chandan Chaurasia on Unsplash

So what now?

Maybe it’s too late for this year, maybe not — I know many of you will be rushing out at the last minute to buy some slightly wilting, discounted roses…

Anyway, the point is, nobody is saying you can’t be loved up and amorous this Valentine’s Day, just consider the alternatives when it comes to cards and gifts, yeah?

Flowers cause less harm if they come from a local source, hence fewer miles travelled and less of a carbon footprint.

Better still, buy (or grow!) a potted plant. It’s still alive! And it will last longer… just like your love, hopefully.

For cards, well you can choose recycled ones, but why not send an e-card instead? Yes, emails have a carbon footprint too, but they’re far less environmentally damaging than messages sent by traditional mail.

Ditch the crappy plastic gifts, we don’t need any more of that waste in our oceans or sent to landfill (because they will be at some stage, sorry).

If you’re buying chocolates, try to support a local chocolatier instead of buying a box that has travelled thousands of miles.

So — you know — buy your love interest some nice stuff, just love the planet while you’re doing it.

Any other bright ideas?

Yes! Let’s go back to the rhyme at the start of this article. Send your Valentine something unique, something they can treasure, something they can love. Something that helps them feel good about themselves. Sounds good, right?

Get on to the World Wide Fund for Nature website — or one similar — and choose to adopt for your Valentine an elephant calf, snow leopard, pangolin, honey badger, hammerhead shark… there are so many creatures to choose from!

A red-footed booby, a chinstrap penguin, a cougar (grrrrrr), a quokka! Who doesn’t love a quokka?!

Use your imagination, but above all, let your red hearts also be green, and show some love for your home planet.

Have a Happy Valentine’s Day…

Mark Campbell
Mark Campbell
Editor of greengreengreen, Mark has been a journalist for more than 30 years, campaigning on environmental issues. Living a vegan and sustainable lifestyle, he also writes for green groups and businesses across the world.

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