6 Tips for a Zero Waste Valentine's Day

Okay, hear me out. I think the intent behind Valentine’s Day is good—that is, celebrating the ones you love in small and sometimes grand ways.

Inner cynic: “Yeah?! What about the overboard consumerism? Not to mention all the disposable trash it creates? How about how it excludes non-coupled people?”

You make good points, inner cynic. Valentine’s Day has evolved into a trashy, high pressure, exclusionary monster that has many wanting to lay low until February 15th. But, I think it’s time we take back the holiday from marketers and make it our own once again.

Let’s ignore the pressure to shower your loved ones with lots of things and instead focus on the gestures and affirmations that make someone feel truly seen and loved. Or, for the solo men and ladies, make it about having a self care day or friend love day. Love in its many forms should be revered and celebrated.

So, how do you go about making someone feel loved without creating a lot of trash? Here are my 6 zero waste tips for a trash-less VDay:

  1. The Treats. Instead of buying a heart-shaped box of sweets for your sweetie, how about baking some homemade treats? Cookies, brownies, a cake....you could even make them heart-shaped or dye them pink and red with some natural food coloring if you want to get really festive. Not into baking or don’t have the time? Hit up your local candy store or even the bulk aisle at a grocery store and fill up a glass jar of candy. Tie a reused ribbon around it if you want to get fancy.
  2. The Card. I was always taught that a handwritten note on a blank piece of paper is better than signing your name on a sappy Hallmark card. It’s up to you how Valentinesy you want to get (ie. cutting out a red, heart-shaped card), but focus on the key reasons you appreciate your loved one. People never tire of hearing what makes them special, especially when it comes from the heart (pun intended).
  3. The Meal. Instead of blowing a bunch of money on a Valentine’s Day themed meal at a crowded restaurant, make your loved one dinner at home. Light some candles to set the mood. Or better yet, take your meal on-the-go for a zero waste picnic. Get a basket, some cloth napkins, real cutlery, a stainless steel lunchbox, and some metal tumblers or glass cups if they’re not too heavy. I’m a big fan of doing a French style picnic — bread or crackers with cheese, fruit, nuts, olives and maybe even some chocolate. Bring a tiny bottle of wine or kombucha if you want to be fancy.
  4. The Flowers. I’m a sap for flowers, especially when they’re locally grown and wrapped in butcher paper. Skip the store bought, plastic-wrapped buds and hit up your local flower shop. See what varieties they have that are grown locally and make sure they skip the plastic. You could also buy a small plant if you’d prefer and pot it in a second-hand planter pot or even a cute vintage mug.
  5. The Gesture. Still looking for other ways to show love? Try putting together a romantic playlist. Or plan a fun activity focused on shared experience—maybe tickets to a concert, booking a romantic weekend away, or treating your boo to day of pampering. You don’t have to go all out with romantic gestures, it’s really the thought that counts.
  6. The Sexy Time. Sadly, as far as sexy time goes, there are no zero waste options for condoms. Please correct me if I’m wrong on this one, but latex (while biodegradable in itself) is usually mixed with plastic materials that cannot decompose. Lambskin condoms are biodegradable, but they don’t protect against STDS. They also aren’t vegan — yep, a baby lamb had to die (mood kill). If you’re not on birth control, I’d recommend choosing a condom that is made sustainably and ethically like Sustain condoms. Protecting your bod trumps creating waste in this area.

What other tips or traditions do you recommend to show the love on Valentine's Day?