Valentine’s Day: DIY ideas to think ‘green’ when you ‘I love you’

Stock photo via Pixabay

It’s almost Valentine’s Day; a day many single people dread that can strike fear in the hearts of the romantically entangled. But whether you think it’s stupid or feel like a Cupid, Valentine’s Day shows its face every Feb. 14. According to, nearly 1 billion valentines are mailed annually worldwide. In the U.S., according to the National Retail Federation’s Valentine’s Day Consumer Spending Survey, Americans spend about $20 billion a year on Valentine’s Day, including gifts of candy, flowers, jewelry, a special night out, etc. This is a good year to show your Valentine that while your heart bleeds red for him or her, your mind is green. Here are some Valentine’s Day ideas to make others GREEN with envy.

Let’s start with the card. Sure, it is convenient to stop by the card aisle in the grocery store while you are picking up food for dinner, but the Earth deserves a lot better and our loved ones deserve more as well. Forego that $5 card that someone else wrote and create your own valentine out of paper you already have around the house. You can use magazines or newspaper clippings or even photographs to craft a card that captures real words from your heart. If words do not come easily to you, then simply incorporate favorite song lyrics or lines from favorite poems or books to share while reducing and reusing paper waste.

In lieu of store-bought flowers that often come wrapped in plastic and other packaging that adds to waste, try repurposing a jar or can from last night’s dinner to make a special vase for fresh, local, sustainable wildflowers or even some from your garden in the spring. Adding a note with the promise of flowers to come shows the expectation for the future of your love and anticipation for additional romantic gestures.

What about the classic box of chocolates? Instead of buying an overpriced box of chocolates with non-recyclable packaging components, repurpose and decorate an old shoebox or other similar container and fill it with homemade favorites. Admittedly, not everyone is a baker, but you probably know at least one person in your sphere of influence that you can barter with for their confectionary assistance.

Lastly for our purposes, in the gift department, for most adult humans, a Valentine’s Day stuffed animal will likely end up living in a landfill one day. Instead of a landfill love puppy, give the gift of a shared experience. Take a winter hike. Spend the weekend in a cabin. Go ice skating (on an outdoor rink, if possible) or to a local concert. Host a Murder Mystery potluck dinner party or a paint night at your house with other couples. Give the one you love a mind full of shared moments, not a landfill full of bear mementos.

Now, let’s talk about the romantic dinner. A great option for a memorable meal is buying locally-grown organic products and making dinner at home for or, or with, your loved one. Organic farms use less/non-toxic chemicals and often more sustainable farming practices which are better for the environment and human health. There is usually little-to-no packaging involved which means less waste materials. When you buy quality ingredients, especially directly from the source, you are more likely to use all that food which will produce less food waste. Plus, buying local goods assures that less fossil fuels are used to transport the goods, resulting in reduced greenhouse gas emissions across the supply chain. Also, since items are often harvested as they are ready for market, less energy is required to keep food products under refrigeration or in conditioned air to maintain freshness.

As you sit down to enjoy your meal, dim the lights and turn up the heat by turning down the thermostat. The extra heat from cooking in the kitchen will help keep the room warm. Plus, you can light some candles for a little extra light and warmth and there is always dancing to stay cozy. You will conserve electricity and create a wonderful setting for your Valentine. Another bonus to many of these “green” ideas is that they can help you save your hard-earned green too. That’s a concept we all can fall in love with.

So, this Valentine’s Day, roses may be red and violets blue, but do your best to think GREEN when you “I Love You.”

For more information, contact the Pollution Prevention Program at 410-306-2199.

By Jennifer Buck, DPW Pollution Prevention Program