“There is no remedy for love but to love more.”- Henry David Thoreau
Happy Valentine’s Day week green friends! I wanted to do something a little special in the name of love … love for the earth that is, so I have taken a jump from my typical Saturday spot by bringing you something to think about as we approach Valentine’s Day this Thursday. The above quote sums up my desire for all of us to love the earth just as much as anyone or anything else on a day about love. There is much that I have discovered about the environmental impact of one of America’s favorite holidays, but along with that discovery I have also found many ways to celebrate this majestic day in a more environmentally responsible way.
I want to start with a few facts about Valentine’s Day that peaked my interest, the first being that the practice of passing out Valentines is a 600-year-old tradition, the oldest on record was a poem written by Charles Duke of Orelans that he wrote to his wife in 1415. Now to me that sounds like a long time and a LOT of paper. I bet some of you are wondering, “well just how much paper is being used compared to other holidays?” Let me help make more sense of how many cards on average per year this equates to: roughly 144 million cards are exchanged every year according to Hallmark, those cards laid end to end would stretch around the world 5 times woah. Valentine’s Day cards sent out account for the second largest card-sending holiday falling second only to Christmas cards, which is 25% of the total seasonal cards market.
I don’t want to take the joy of giving cards, so consider that instead of buying a traditional card making one. If creativity really isn’t your thing you can also purchase cards made out of recyclable paper or send an e-card. The truth of the matter is the pulp & paper industry is a huge contributor to the carbon-dioxide emitted and water resources used, and let’s not even get into how many trees the card production industry cuts down to make all of these cards. If you’re anything like me you stare lovingly at your card for a few days, and then it ends up either in a drawer never to see the light of day or discreetly tossed in next week’s trash.
Now that I’ve had my little rain cloud moment with traditional Valentine’s Day cards, I unfortunately have to be the bearer of more bad news, which is the harm in purchasing fresh, but likely imported flowers. I know, I know I truly seem to be taking all the fun and ease out of the holiday, but it’s for a good cause to inspire change. Fresh flowers are purchased on Valentine’s Day more than any other holiday, with roses being the most popular; according to the American Greetings Corporation. This can be dangerous because the flower industry has a very loose regulatory status because flowers are not an “edible” crop, therefore they are exempt from regulations on pesticide residue.
Imagine here you are trying to give this beautiful expression of love and turns out it just a giant bouquet of pesticide ridden roses.
The transportation of these roses from other countries also come with a high environmental price tag of emissions that vehicles produce to get the flowers into the commercial market at the volume sold on Valentine’s Day. There are ways to off- set this, some of which would be to shop at local farmers markets for flowers grown in season and native to the state that you live in or try your hand at a potted plant and help your loved one tap into their inner green thumb. If you want to mix an activity in the form of a gift, set up a tree planting date to celebrate your love for the earth as well as your love for your special someone.
All in all Americans spend $8 billion dollars eating out on Valentine’s Day, so I challenge you this year to circulate those dollars in your own community by eating local, or preparing a romantic dinner at home. You can take your new-found green Valentine’s Day mojo and cut the amount of electricity you use by having a candle lit night with an electronic free night.
The sentiment behind the holiday doesn’t have to be lost simply because you are more environmentally aware, if anything it should strengthen the real meaning of the day; emitting nothing but love and kindness through all actions including those done to protect the planet. I leave you all to responsibly enjoy your holiday with my typical reminder to Reduce, Reuse, Recycle!
KOB’s very own blogger,