Valentine’s Day harks way back to the 5th Century, however, it became much more popular in 1913 when Hallmark started mass producing cards for the occasion. Over 100 years later, it’s become a major holiday with store displays, restaurant specials, and a Charlie Brown Valentine television special. There’s even a spin-off holiday – Galentine’s Day – for “ladies celebrating ladies.”
I’m all for celebrating anything in the middle of February – the shortest yet longest month of the year, and I would never complain about spending a romantic evening with someone special, but Valentine’s Day can come with a high environmental cost if you’re not careful. Here are easy things to look for when celebrating.
Cut-flowers, especially roses, and double-especially in the middle of February, are usually imported from South America and are often grown with a heavy dose of pesticides and other agrochemicals. You can learn more in this article, “The Environmental Price of Flowers,” in Scientific American.
The good news is that there are South American farms that are implementing environmental standards and social programs for their workers and they deserve to be supported so hopefully they can take market share away from the polluters. If you’re going to buy a bouquet, look for the FlorVerde label, whose growers follow very stringent eco and social guidelines, as well as FlorEcuador or VeriFlora.
If you can’t find any in a store near you, you can order on-line from Urban Stems. They responsibly source their materials and specialize in creative designs, like this gorgeous Lovebird Bouquet in various shades of purple. Local delivery is available in New York & DC. FedEx delivery is available nationwide.
The Bouqs Co. is another sustainable florist that works directly with eco-friendly farmers — the farmer’s photo and location is displayed under the image of the bouquet so you know exactly whom you’re buying from. The beautiful Showstopper Bouquet (below) is from Farmer Mike in California. Bouqs offer $12 nationwide delivery via FedEx and UPS.
Flowers and chocolates go hand-in-hand on Valentine’s Day. However, some chocolate production, especially in West Africa, relies on child labor and massive deforestation, as described in this article by the World Wildlife Federation. Look for Fair Trade labels and you’ll find chocolate that is more sustainable and socially conscious.
For a list of 10 Fair Trade Companies, check out this article by The Good Trade, most of which are available at Whole Foods.
I also recommend Lake Champlain Chocolates in Vermont. You can’t go wrong with a heart-shaped box on Valentine’s Day! Their Traditional Valentine’s Truffle Heart has 8 milk, white and dark chocolate truffles. This looks incredibly delicious. You may be able to find Lake Champlain in your local Whole Foods. I know (too well) that they’re available at my local Philadelphia store.
Being in Philly, I would be totally remiss if I didn’t mention Philly’s own John & Kira’s. John & Kira source their ingredients from urban gardens and small family farms around the world. They use innovative flavors and cute shapes like bees and lady bugs. I love this colorful Sweethearts box filled with 18 pieces of heart shaped chocolates in 9 flavors, including Dulce de Leche (my favorite), white pistachio, and champagne ganache.
Now that you know where to find your sustainable Valentine’s Day gift, don’t wrap it in trash!
So now you have no excuse for showing up empty handed on Valentine’s Day. I’d love it if you left a comment telling me about your Valentine’s plans. Don’t forget to sign up for our mailing list to get 15% off your next order.