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Ten Tips to Green Your Valentine's Day

Putting the heart back into Valentine’s Day with a greener touch mostly requires thoughtfulness, a step that fortunately can be tailored to any budget.

After years of promotion by the greeting card industry, you might think Valentine’s Day is just another commercial holiday.

Consider the numbers:

  • More than a billion Valentine cards sent each year globally—second only to Christmas
  • More than 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate sold each year
  • Millions of fresh flower purchases, lead by red roses—the No. 1 day for both
  • Ten percent of all engagements on this one day

With all the advertising and social pressure to show how much you care on this one occasion, it’s easy to get caught up in buying all the standard stuff. But what kind of message do you send with pesticide-infused flowers, blood diamonds, presents from a big box store, or a shiny balloon that ends up in the trash two days later? Putting the heart back into Valentine’s Day requires thoughtfulness, a step that fortunately can be tailored to any budget.

Give that Gift a Greener Touch

1.  Cards—Can you make your own? Try your hand at it, or find a handmade creation at a local shop. If  that’s too crafty or too spendy for you, look for one made from recycled paper.

2.  Chocolates—Many stores on the Peninsula carry fair trade and organic labels, which make sure the people behind your sweet treat earned a living wage in safe conditions, while preserving the natural resources in their communities.

3.  Lingerie—Look for items made from organic cotton, hemp, bamboo or recycled fabric.

4.  Candles—Set the mood without the soot by using candles made from soy, or pick up some beeswax tapers from your local farmers market.

5.  Flowers—Some florists and flower stalls at local farmers markets offer organic and/or fair trade blooms. Look beyond the standard red rose to the marvelous bouquets blooming locally. Or, for a green thumb, consider a potted plant that will last long past February.

6. Dining Out—Enjoy that special meal at a Buy Fresh, Buy Local participating restaurant.

7. Dining In—Prepare a home-cooked meal for your sweetie, using fresh ingredients in season now at your local farmers market. Several are , including those in Belmont, Daly City, Menlo Park and San Mateo.

8. Wine—Wherever you buy wine on the Peninsula, spend a few minutes talking to staff. You may be surprised how many choices are available from this part of California, including organic and even biodynamic wineries.

9. Jewelry—A number of local jewelry-makers specialize in custom creations using recycled metals and/or gemstones. If you like a vintage look, visit one of  the Peninsula’s small jewelers or .

10. Share an Experience—Take in a concert, go dancing or do anything else the two of you enjoy. For more ideas, check out my previous column, .

A mild-mannered civil servant by day, Mary Bell Austin uses her time away from her environmental work for, well, environmental play. Her adventures in healthy eating and her explorations into the wider green world can be found at Bite-size Green. Her column appears biweekly on Saturdays. 

Bill Baker February 04, 2012 at 06:38 PM
Ever hear of a redneck engagement ring? http://blog.travelpod.com/travel-photo/kyliemarsh001/1/1275257573/redneck-engagement-ring.jpg/tpod.html Giving your wife or girlfriend a ring or other piece of jewelry made out of recycled scrap metal might not send the right Valentine's Day message :-(
Antonio Catpo February 04, 2012 at 09:25 PM
Bill that ring is hilarious! but environmentally correct, for sure
Pretty Asian... February 05, 2012 at 12:33 AM
i do believe the best way to green our Valentine's Day is to spend it with our parents & siblings becuz love life is just around the corner 24/7 and that it can wait... I speak of myself being a student. Spend most of our time with the one(s) we really care about, savor moments that are really worthwhile, show feelings that we've been hiding, and say the things that we've been keeping... becuz we may not know right there and then that we will not be able to find another single chance to do these things again. So, say and express how much we love our family this Valentine's Day @>-;----<
Kim February 14, 2012 at 08:07 AM
Refreshing to read your perspective when there are so many bitter views on valentine's day! So yes to chocolate, fancy lingerie, jewelry, dinner etc... It's taking the extra effort to show we care whether to our children,, family or loved ones! The negative commercialism views on valentines belong to same the same people who whine about Christmas commercialism! It's what you make out of it!!!

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