With the smell of fresh flowers hovering in the air and candles flickering on the table, you sip a glass or two of Merlot and your partner guesses the contents of a box of chocolates, all while the low thump of a jazz bassist sets a slow and soft pace for the evening. Maybe this is the year you or your partner reaches into a Rust and Fray bag and pulls out a vintage diamond ring? Valentine's Day is almost here, and it’s time to plan out the perfect evening. But a great night with your partner can sometimes be a terrible night for the planet without you two even knowing it. So here are our Valentine’s Day gift ideas that are as eco-friendly as they are lovely.
Toxic-Free Beeswax Candles
Candles are a staple Valentine’s Day gift, or simply a bit of mood lighting as you plate your home-cooked meal. However, what many people may not know is that the majority of candles are made from paraffin wax, which is derived from petroleum or oil shale and could potentially be bad for your health. A simple and eco-friendly alternative to a paraffin wax candle is beeswax. In addition to being renewable, all-natural, and helping to support our in-crisis bee population, beeswax burns longer and drips less than most candles. All while giving off a sweet honey aroma.
Local Flowers over Imported
While a small bouquet of cut roses may make for a tasteful and romantic display, the floriculture industry is problematic at best. The majority of flowers are grown in underdeveloped countries near the equator (namely Kenya, Ecuador, and Colombia) where they can be grown cheaply year round. The problem is that since flowers are not a food products, and that these countries have lax environmental laws to begin with, these flowers are often highly sprayed with chemical pesticides and grown with synthetic fertilizers, making it a particularly toxic farming industry. So instead of buying cut flowers, head over to a local flower shop and by something living. It’ll support local production while giving your partner a plant that’ll help the planet more than hurt it.
When people think about manufacturing issues surrounding chocolate, they usually think about the unfair and exploitative labor practices associated with the industry. While that is reason enough to buy a better brand of chocolate, remember that fair labor issues almost always go hand in hand with environmental activism [tweet that quote]. Chocolate farming co-ops will both make sure that the farmers are fairly compensated for their work and employ eco-friendly alternatives to plantation farming, such as ensuring biodiversity, using natural rainfall patterns over water guzzling irrigation, and maintaining soil health instead of clearcut growing.
The Perfect Glass of Wine
If you are looking for a perfect glass of sustainably grown wine for your date night, you actually have a couple options to choose from. The easiest would be to look for an organic wine, which ensures that your wine is grown entirely or mostly without pesticides, synthetic fertilizers, or herbicides. However, different countries have different standards for what counts as an organic wine, so you need to look up your country's certification standards to see if your country’s standards live up to your own. Natural wine is a movement that chooses to eliminate as much of the refining process as possible, making it as close to simply fermented grapes as one can get. The thing about natural wines are that while they are undoubtedly eco-friendly, they also can be a mixed bag in terms of quality, so make sure to sample the wine before buying. Finally, there is a movement called biodynamic wine, which takes a unique approach of considering the entire field, not just the grapes, as one big organism, and works to maintain the health of the entire ecosystem. They combine some top of the line organic and holistic growing techniques with some esoteric practices, such as aligning wine planting with lunar cycles, so you’re getting very sustainable wine with a bonus if your partner is into astrology.
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