Whether you’re making valentines for your child’s school party or going the traditional romance route with flowers and chocolate, don’t let Valentine’s Day make you abandon your principles of living wisely and well. Here are a few tips for a fun and romantic holiday that keep your health and the health of the planet in mind.
Handmade, Recycled Valentines
Every year around Christmas, we at Natural Home & Garden offer tons of tips for wrapping gifts in recycled materials you have around the house (check out some of my favorite ideas). Use those same principles to create adorable valentines made from items otherwise bound for the landfill. Brown paper sacks can become a beautiful canvas when embellished with fun cutouts, scraps of ribbon or fabric, multicolored buttons or costume jewelry. Consider finding pretty colors or images to cut out from old magazines.
Instead of spending money on disposable valentines, spend that money at the craft store on design tools you can use again and again, such as heart-shaped paper punches, pretty stamps and a red ink pad (a couple examples are here and here), calligraphy pens or specialty paints. Not only are you helping teach your kids a lesson about reducing waste, you’re also enhancing their capacity for creativity.
Fair Trade Chocolates and Organic Flowers
Sad but true: Conventional chocolate often relies on slave and child labor. As reported by Green America, the State Department’s 2010 Trafficking in Persons report describes children being traded as labor for West African cocoa plantations. Major American chocolate manufacturers such as Hershey rely on cocoa from these horribly run plantations. Fortunately, many types of certification exist to help you sort out the good chocolatiers from the bad. You can download Green America’s chocolate score card and guide to certification labels here and tuck it in your wallet for use at the grocery store. Or check out the Food Empowerment Project’s Chocolate List here. It’s true that Fair Trade and organic chocolate costs more than the other stuff. But when you consider that the low price of conventional chocolate is only possible because of child slaves, you’ll realize its true cost.
Conventionally grown bouquet flowers are sprayed with toxic pesticides and other chemicals both when they are being grown and afterward to keep them pesticide-free. If you want to purchase a bouquet for a loved one, look for those that are Veriflora-certified, which ensures the flowers were produced sustainably and with fair labor practices. Some national retailers such as Organic Style and Organic Bouquet offer certified flowers. Otherwise, assemble your own bouquet from pretty items plucked from nature. A collection of pretty boughs with winter berries in a vase might make a lovely centerpiece, or choose a locally grown cactus or a seedling from a local nursery that can be transplanted to the ground when spring weather hits in a few short weeks.
Think Outside the Chocolate Box
You don’t have to be a master of creativity or romance to come up with a great idea for a less conventional Valentine’s Day gift. Consider a piece of vintage costume jewelry, then have it engraved at a local jeweler for a low cost. Visit Etsy to search for handmade jewelry or other items. This “Lover Letter Bird Sparrow” locket necklace would make a perfect gift, as would this gold-plated “Love Birds” customized initial necklace.
If you want to make something yourself, consider some simple bath salts or a pain-relieving massage with this homemade herbal muscle rub (get seven ideas for handmade gifts). If your love is a nature lover, make one of these simple homemade terrariums. If food is the way to your sweetie’s heart, try whipping up a batch of these handmade truffles (free of refined sugar!) or homemade candy hearts.