Sustainable Valentine’s Day Gifts

Isabella Escamilla, Zero Waste Humboldt Intern

Since the 14th century, Valentine’s Day has been a notable celebration of love around the world. Many significant-others celebrate this day by exchanging gifts to show their admiration for one another. However, frequently these gifts are single-use items that are not environmentally friendly nor long-lasting. Whether the gifts include bouquets of flowers that die in a matter of days or unethically sourced chocolate bars with plastic wrapping, humans can do much better in choosing sustainable and meaningful presents. 

If you’re a chocolate fan like me, I recommend you check out the Arcata-based brand “Cacao Cocoon.” This local dark chocolate brand is sweetened with pure honey and contains single origin cacao from a family run farm. Another chocolate brand, which is not local but I would also recommend, is “Hu.” Both Cacao Cocoon and Hu dark chocolate bars are free from palm oil and dairy, two industries that contribute to climate change through large-scale factory farms. In addition, unlike many valentine chocolate products, these brands ethically source their ingredients and use compostable wrapping. Shopping locally saves energy from transportation, so a Cacao Cocoon bar would be a great valentine’s gift. 

Instead of gifting your partner a bouquet of flowers, which often die quickly, give them a living plant instead! Living plants, if cared for properly, last much longer than store bought bouquets and require less energy in the importation process. Flowers that are in bouquets usually contain fungicides, insecticides, and herbicides that are linked to respiratory problems. Aside from being more sustainable gift options, living plants are much more personal and unique than store bought bouquets. 

A very common valentine gift is jewelry, which is long-lasting and visually beautiful. However, not all brand name jewelry stores get their gems, stones, metals, and crystals by using responsible and sustainable mining practices. Mining for these jewelry materials can pose several health risks and the production process has been known to produce toxic waste. To ensure that your jewelry gift is ethical and sustainable, I suggest that you make sure that the company has transparent, responsible sourcing and production processes. I have found many pieces of beautiful, affordable jewelry locally and  in second-hand stores, too.

On the topic of second-hand stores, getting your significant-other a present from there is a great alternative to shopping at commercial stores. Shopping at thrift stores is good for the environment because it reduces the carbon and chemical pollution created by new clothing production. Thrift stores have a variety of items that are long-lasting such as clothes, jewelry, books, mugs, furniture and shoes. Long-lasting gifts are much more meaningful than single-use ones. 

When it comes to a Valentine’s Day card, try making your own card from recyclable or compostable material. If you do want to buy a pre-manufactured card, do so locally and try to find fair trade ones. Many people appreciate the gift of time. Set aside time to do activities your partner enjoys or would appreciate. Valentine’s Day is all about love — what better way to show your appreciation for someone than by giving them your time!