F or those of us striving to adopt more sustainable habits, the holidays can be tough. There’s a lot of pressure to express affection through gift-giving, which isn’t bad in and of itself, but it can create a bit of a conundrum when it comes to finding options that aren’t harmful to the environment. It’s tough not to picture giant heart balloons, mountains of boxed chocolates, mounds of teddy bears, etc. when thinking about Valentine’s Day. While the imagery may be appealing, the fact that many of these items will only contribute further to the mounting waste crisis can be discouraging. Not to mention the fact that, due to COVID, many of us will be celebrating Valentine’s Day very differently this year.
We decided to spend some time thinking about eco-conscious, creative, and safe ways to share this Valentine’s Day with loved ones. By the end of all that pondering, we were reminded of one of the greatest and most eco-friendly gifts we can all give--our time! Creating special experiences is a beautiful way we express love and results in lasting memories you’ll cherish for all time--also, you can curate experiences that align with your sustainability goals! What does this look like? We’ve come up with some ideas (Note: these can all be adapted to respect social distancing rules by making them video calls):
This is one of our personal faves! It’s fun to take a little trip back in time to recreate a favorite memory you share. While COVID restrictions may mean you can’t go to the exact spot, you can always set the scene at home and make sure to wear the same (or similar) outfits you wore on that special day. If you can’t meet safely in person, try recreating the moment via a video call. Encourage your partner or friend to dress in the same outfit and let them know what elements are needed to set the scene on their end. Then, let the magic happen.
✥ Author’s Note: We’ve done this with our partner in the past, and it was really fun to recreate the night we met and reminisce about the conversations we had and our first impressions of each other.
♽ Eco-Tip: Aim to recreate this experience with things you already have, and if you do need to purchase anything (i.e. part of your outfit or a prop), opt for items you will reuse or will bring some form of needed functionality to your space long after the date.
Another favorite! A really fun strategy is to let each other come up with the other person’s persona (name, background, interests, etc.), and then you each have to play into the role you’ve been given. How this works:
Pretend that you’re meeting through a dating or friend match app (this explains why you would know certain details without having met before). Here’s an example of how this could play out:
◎ Person A: Hi Electra! I think it’s really neat that you’re a veterinarian--but, I have to say… I have a lot of questions about your obsession with snowglobes…”
◎ Person B: *laughs awkwardly* Hi Carmen, I may need a couple of drinks before I can dive straight into my fondness for Snowglobes. But, I would love to hear more about your Bridgerton fanfiction vlog!
From there, just let the night take you where it takes you! If COVID restrictions keep you from having this experience in person, this can easily be done via a video chat! This also gives you the opportunity to take cute screenshots you can share later *Awww.* The beauty of this experience is that it’s entirely up to your imagination, which means you can go as green as you want! You can even make sustainability the theme of your date.
If, like us, your valentine’s wouldn’t be complete without chocolates, a fun and more sustainable way to keep this Vday staple on the menu is making them yourself! Just pour a couple glasses of your favorite wine and let your inner artist and chocolatier do the rest...maybe watch a tutorial or two first... Here’s little inspiration to help you get started:
♽ Eco-Tip: Once you’ve finished your chocolate masterpiece(s), opt to gift/store them in a repurposed glass container or jar in place of gift packaging.
A day of firsts is a fun way to bond with your friend or partner by creating a list of things/activities that one or both of you have never done and then mapping out your day accordingly. These can be nearby destinations you’ve always wanted to visit (with your sustainable cloth masks handy), trying your hand at pottery, roller skating for the first time...you get the idea. Once you’ve made your way through the list, end your day by talking about those experiences and some of your favorite moments.
If you’re not able to meet in person, opt for experiences the two of you can take part in via video chat. You can also text each other a collage of images from any experiences you weren’t able to share in person.
♽ Eco-Tip: For activities that require you to bring along snacks or a meal, opt for reusable packaging that can easily be stored in a bag or backpack afterwards.
Art is a great way to connect, destress, and let your creativity flow! This is a really fun date activity adapted from our childhood. All you need are paints and a canvas/paper. Next, you just tape the canvas (or a paper) on the underside of your kitchen table or desk. Then, lay on your back (with your partner or friend) and begin creating your masterpiece together. We suggest starting on opposite ends and meeting in the middle (Awww). It’s messy, memorable, and fun! If you can’t do this in-person, set up your video call on the floor next to you, so you can see each other and interact with each other as you paint. Note: Be sure to use non-toxic paint. Also, instead of buying paper or a canvas, breakdown and repurpose a cardboard box!
Creating experiences in place of giving material gifts is not just great for bonding with loved ones, it also empowers you to stay instep with your sustainability goals because you’re the one curating the activities. And, while not ideal, video calls are still a good way of staying connected and sharing special moments when you can’t be face-to-face. No matter how you choose to celebrate Valentine’s Day this year, we hope your day is full of love, laughter, and new memories.
P.S. If you're still hoping to purchase your loved one(s) a little something and are looking for sustainable options, check out the articles below on our favorite sustainable brands and products: