Dear Eartha, how can I show my love for the planet this Valentine’s Day?
Valentine’s Day is not the only thing warming up the month of February. So is climate change. Projections by the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization show that by 2050, nearly 25% of Summit County’s winter days could have high temperatures above freezing, compared to 12% from 1970 to 1999.
Warmer temperatures in February would mean less of the fluffy powder that we all love and more wet, heavy snow. Even scarier? The potential for winter rain instead of snow. Let’s help extend our winters and our love for the planet with a few Valentine’s Day tips.
We love buying things
Valentine’s Day is, like many other holidays, focused on physical gifts. Yet, many of these gifts come with environmental costs. Take roses, for example: Almost all roses American shoppers buy for Valentine’s Day are flown in from Colombia and other regions of South America. According to The Washington Post, in the three weeks leading up to Feb. 14, 30 cargo jets travel from Colombia to Miami each day, with each plane carrying more than a million flowers. When the roses land in Miami, they are loaded into about 200 refrigerated trucks and transported to warehouses around South Florida each day. From there, they are assembled into bouquets, then shipped all over the country.
What is the carbon footprint of this? Shipping all those roses for Valentine’s Day adds up to 22,680 metric tons of CO2 within a three-week period. That number is almost 4% of Summit County’s carbon emissions in 2020! And this doesn’t include the trucking footprint from Miami to Colorado and beyond.
So, consider skipping the roses and ask your local florist to create a bouquet with flowers they have in abundance, or inquire about in-season varieties produced closer to home. This can help reduce waste and the environmental cost of shipping.
Think outside the bouquet box
Showing more love for the planet might include shifting our traditions away from roses and other material things and focusing on experiences.
Maybe it is planning a romantic dinner, gifting a wellness day or finding an adventure for two. For any romantic experience, check out the many local businesses who participate in the High Country Conservation Center’s Resource Wise sustainable business program. The Green Business Directory at HighCountryConservation.org will provide a list of local restaurants, retail stores and wellness services that are actively reducing their waste, curbing energy use, saving water and making more sustainable choices. Resource Wise businesses are getting creative to reduce their footprint while providing quality products and experiences.
Shifting away from material things might also look like acts of service. This could be as simple as taking out the trash (and recycling)! Acts of service can also include volunteering together. Finding a common passion project to tackle together is the perfect way to connect with someone while also caring for the community. There are many organizations out there looking for volunteers. Check out 1 Degree, a new platform to link you to information about nonprofits around Summit County where you can volunteer.
Make the Earth your valentine
From December wildfires on the Front Range to below-average snowpack across the Colorado River basin, it’s clear our Earth isn’t getting the love it deserves. Our precious planet needs us to use this holiday (and every day) to spread love, not unnecessary waste. Making Valentine’s Day more sustainable and taking action on climate will be the best gift for Valentine’s Day and the future of our loved ones.