A Sustainable Sweetheart Celebration

heartsBy Kathryn Cooke, Pollution Prevention Specialist, San Mateo County Environmental Health

Like most couples, my fiancé always celebrated Valentine’s Day by presenting me with sweet smelling lilies and roses, a card filled with kind words, and a variety of pink and red balloons. The aroma of flowers would fill the air with the smell of love and the balloons were a cheerful and festive decoration to wake up to in the morning and to come home to in the evening.

However, after about two weeks, the roses became droopy, petals would start to fall off, and the pollen from the lilies became a constant stain concern. The sweet smell of flowers that once filled the air would turn into an odor far less pleasant. The balloons that once stood tall with the words “I Love You” or “Be Mine” sagged and slowly became an annoyance. Eventually, the time would come for the flowers to go in the compost bin and the balloons to be popped and put in the trash.

Last year we decided to spice things up by celebrating sustainably! Instead of water hogging roses that are grown with toxic pesticides and balloons that are known to fly away and become litter, we discovered the following sustainable ways to celebrate that have actually made the holiday even more meaningful.

  • We went from dining out to dining in. We took a trip to the farmer’s market, bought locally grown produce and cooked a fabulous meal. Not only was the food made with love, we felt like the food was grown with love from the local farmers we purchased the ingredients from. Check out what we made and some other sustainable menu options at http://gracelinks.org/tag/main_dishes.
  • Instead of flowers and balloons, I received dark chocolate. My tasty treats were not only delicious, they were also shade grown and certified by the National Rainforest Alliance to ensure wildlife and trees were protected while my chocolate was growing. Find out more about the Alliance at http://www.rainforest-alliance.org/.
  • We exchanged cards made with seeds! The message in the card was just as meaningful and the best part was I got to plant the card and watch the flowers grow instead of watching them wither away in a vase.
  • We took time to enjoy nature by going on a hike. There are so many romantic and scenic adventures to go on in the Bay Area! We found it’s a great way to spend some quality time and appreciate the reason why we decided to celebrate the holiday sustainably in the first place. To find a list of hiking trails near you visit http://bahiker.com/.

Do you have your own sustainable Valentine’s Day tradition? Share it with us by leaving a comment below.

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