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.