ASK EARTHA: Greening Your Valentine’s Day

 In Ask Eartha

Dear Eartha, how can I go green this Valentine’s Day?

Ah, Valentine’s Day. Whether you celebrate it, ignore it or wonder why it became a holiday at all, it’s an opportunity to acknowledge and appreciate those we love. Let’s not forget to give Mother Earth our love, too! Holidays like this one push us to consume, but we can be empowered to make choices with sustainability in mind. Let’s look at how we can green up five classic Valentine’s Day traditions.

Beyond the bouquet

Flowers are the Valentine’s Day go-to. According to AboutFlowers.com, 28 percent of Americans purchased flowers for the 2019 holiday. Seventy percent of flowers sold in the United States come from Colombia, meaning the blooms have quite a trek – and carbon footprint – to get from the grower to your flower vase.

Consider skipping the roses and ask your florist to create a bouquet with flowers they have in abundance. This can help reduce waste. Or, inquire about in-season varieties produced closer to home. Best of all, think outside of the bouquet box and purchase a live plant to be enjoyed year-round.

The sweetest treat

Behind the frilly, heart-shaped box of chocolates is a cocoa industry that can be not so sweet. Chocolate is a multi-billion dollar, resource-intensive industry. According to a report by National Geographic, it takes 450 gallons (or about ten bathtubs of water!) to produce a single 3.5-ounce chocolate bar. What’s more, the Ivory Coast – which produces a third of the world’s cocoa – has seen 80 percent of its forests lost, in large part due to the cocoa industry.

Make this year’s chocolate choice a more sustainable one. Look for chocolates with the Fair Trade label. Fair Trade-certified works to ensure a high standard of well-being and income to the industry farmers and workers. Those standards also extend to environmental responsibility to protect natural resources and restrict use of certain chemicals. You may need to spend a little bit more to get chocolate with a conscience, and that sweet treat will be all the better to savor.

Love notes

Really impress this year by skipping the card aisle and making your own Valentine cards. Get creative! Look around your home for materials to craft your card. Nothing handy around? Local thrift stores are a great resource for interesting, seasonally themed materials to inspire your card creations. Keep it simple and from the heart.

At the table

Dining in: To avoid food waste, choose recipes that include ingredients you already have in your kitchen. Consider the number of people sharing the meal, and plan accordingly. Go for produce that’s in season – ‘tis the time for citrus rather than strawberries – and look for products in the grocery store with the “Colorado Proud” label.

Dining out: Make your reservation with a restaurant that prioritizes sustainability. A list of local restaurants who participate in the High Country Conservation Center’s Resource Wise sustainable business program can be found in the Green Business Directory at HighCountryConservation.org. These businesses are actively reducing their waste, curbing energy use, saving water and making more sustainable choices.

Whether you are celebrating your meal in or out, choose American wines or sip cocktails crafted with spirits from the local distilleries. You can kick back knowing you’ve reduced the travel miles (and resulting emissions) of your V-day libations.

The gift of giving

Once you start looking for gifts with sustainability in mind, you may be surprised at just how many options are out there. Seek out products made in Colorado and those which use sustainable materials or have green practices. And, of course, shop local!

The Green Business Directory is also a resource for local retail stores and wellness services who make sustainability part of their business practices. After all, a green approach benefits both employees and customers. Resource Wise businesses are getting creative to reduce their footprint while providing you quality products and experiences.

This Valentine’s Day, go with conscious choices that show you care for the health of our planet and a livable, thriving future for those you love. There’s no better way to say, “I love you.”

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