As candy hearts and roses remind us it's the time of year to shower our friends, families, and significant others with affection, our office shares little things you can do that show the Earth some love, too.
Buy (or plant) local flowers
“Flowers imported from miles and miles away may seem exotic and romantic, but the environmental costs of shipping flowers from large greenhouses to your supermarket are impactful. Those greenhouses that mass produce flowers in highly regulated conditions use high levels of energy. Furthermore, the carbon emissions from the transport trucks are why, in thinking about any industry, it is often better to buy locally sourced products. Choose a local florist who grows flowers in town over a supermarket that sources theirs from unknown locations. Buying native flowers is also a great way to show that there is interest in upkeep of native populations. These flowers probably did not need to be grown in an elaborate, energy-consuming warehouse either. For a more lasting symbol of your love, plant native flowers in your yard or as a potted plant. These will attract pollinators while also brightening up your home. Plus, you can have the satisfaction of knowing those flowers are planted where they are native.” - Ben Johnson, Sustainability Intern.
Don't send a regular card
“One staple of Valentine’s Day is seen practically everywhere — greeting cards. You can buy one for literally everyone you know: your significant other, your siblings, your grandma, probably even your dog. According to the Greeting Card Association, Americans buy 6.5 million greeting cards each year, all of which come from paper and use fossil fuels to fly across the country. What’s more romantic than hurting the environment for something you only read once? Turns out, the answer is a lot. The Guardian estimates an email leaves just one-sixtieth of the carbon footprint of a letter, so send your mother a sweet animated heart this year. Better yet, make a card yourself from recycled or reused paper — it’ll mean a lot more to the one receiving it. If you don’t have faith in your artistic abilities, buy a recycled card like those from Green Field Paper Company. Their cards come embedded with flower seeds, so your loved one can plant it and be even more environmentally friendly!” - Gennifer Geer, Sustainability Intern.
Eat sustainable chocolate
“Chocolate is the perfect gift for your loved one — or even for treating yourself — on Valentine’s Day. However, not all chocolates are sustainably sourced. This year, make the environmentally conscious choice and buy Endangered Species Chocolate. This brand uses ingredients that meet strict standards for quality, ethical trade and environmental sustainability — earning Fair Trade, Non-GMO, Kosher, Vegan, and Gluten-Free certifications. Each different type of chocolate features an endangered species on the front and a fact sheet about the respective animal on the inside wrapper. Not to mention, 10 percent of their profits goes to the Rainforest Trust and the Wildlife Conservation Network!” - Veronica Johnson, former Sustainability Intern.
Use a condom
“The Center for Biological Diversity, my all-time favorite non-profit, has a project called Endangered Species Condoms in effort to get people talking about the link between human population growth and the wildlife extinction crisis. As of now, there are 7 billion people on this planet with approximately 200,000 babies being born each day. That’s about 140 new people being added to the global population each minute! This rapid population growth, coupled with humanity’s insatiable desire to consume, is having a significant toll on our planet and wildlife. Overpopulation leads to climate change, habitat loss, ocean acidification, and resource depletion — all of which are contributing to the sixth mass extinction. So, this Valentine’s Day, wrap with care… save the polar bear!” - Veronica Johnson, former Sustainability Intern.
Cook a meal at home
“What Valentine’s Day is complete without taking your partner out for a nice meal? However, going out for a nice meal can be unsustainable, starting with just the gas involved on your commute, and your romantic steak contributes to a vast array of environmental damage and energy use. This year, impress your significant other by cooking a meal at home. You can buy organic ingredients from the Rice Farmers Market every Tuesday, which happens to be the day Valentine’s Day falls on. Even better, turn the whole experience into a date. Take your loved one to the farmers market to pick up ingredients and cook a sustainable meal together as you enjoy one another’s company. It’ll be a date to remember!” - Niki Parekh, Sustainability Intern.
Make a mixtape (or CD or playlist)
"As a Gen X-er, I can’t resist the opportunity to share a retro suggestion that was popular when I was in college: make a mixtape for your significant other. (Eco-tip: repurpose an old tape you no longer use.) Putting together a good mixtape is a true art — from the careful selection and sequencing of content, to the clever and complete utilization of all of the space on each side of the tape without anything being cut-off, to the creation of an appealing cover with an easy-to-read song listing. But, most importantly, it’s the thought and personalization of a mixtape that matters the most. This is your opportunity to insert inside jokes, private references, hidden messages, and to otherwise show that you understand what your significant other will enjoy. And that’s what makes a mixtape special: the ideal mixtape for one person could be a complete dud for another, so it’s truly a personalized gift.
"For Valentine’s Day, I’ll share a few songs as mere suggestions for appropriate content. One would be Marvin Gaye’s “Let’s Get it On”, a sexy masterpiece from 1973 that will melt your earbuds. A great follow-up from the same era would be Al Green’s silky and soulful “Let’s Stay Together”. If those are a bit too “quietstorm” for you, perhaps the jangly post-punk 1982 single “I Melt With You” by Modern English will better convey your passion and enthusiasm for a life of possibilities together without causing eyes to roll. A final suggestion: If you’re looking for a slower, sultry tune with a quiet coffee shop vibe, you can’t go wrong with the 2002 hit “Come Away With Me” by Norah Jones. The key is for you to find the right songs that fit your particular relationship, put them together in a thoughtful way, and share them with your significant other. Happy mixtaping!” - Richard Johnson, Director of Sustainability.