show a bit of love to the planet this valentine’s day.

every year on february 14th love is well and truly in the air, with everyone buying cards, flowers and gifts for that special someone. what people often don’t realise however is the negative impact that this has on the environment and the earth’s resources. from trees being cut down to make cards to increased carbon emissions from transportation and increases in pesticides used on flowers,  the traditional accoutrements to valentine’s day come with more than the store’s hefty price tag. but for all you environmantics there are lots of great ideas out there which don’t cost the earth…

each year royal mail deliver a staggering 12 million valentine’s cards… if all of these cards are made from non-recycled paper, that’s a lot of trees. making paper has a considerable impact of the environment, with paper mills using vast amounts of water and discharging large quantities of chemicals. when paper finally ends up in a landfill it produces methane, one of the most potent greenhouse gases. factor in that the paper industry contributes to approximately 10% of global carbon emissions [3 times that of global aviation] and all of a sudden sending a loved one a card doesn’t seem as romantic.

don’t fear however as you can still send a card with a conscience. one of the best options is to be crafty in more ways than one and save some cash by making your own card from reused paper and magazines. check out this great guide from the guardian for some ideas. if you’re not in the blue peter spirit then m&s has a fab selection of fsc-certified cards and nigel’s eco store has a innovative card set made from natural biodegradable cotton impregnated with wild flower seeds which you can then plant and watch grow into beautiful flowers. also try looking for cards made out of alternative sustainable materials such as hemp, straw and even animal dung! for a card that’s a real token of love then why not have a go at carving your own card? nigel’s ecostore comes up trumps again with their sustainably sourced wooden postcard, which you can carve your own message on. and finally for those last minute amongst you [yes boys, i’m talking to you!] then embrace the wonders of modern technology and send an e-card… jibjab have a selection that are bound to win you at least a few brownies points.

a bunch of roses might be a traditional valentine’s token but environmental impact to shop bought flowers isn’t quite as rosy. 55 million roses are traded globally on valentine’s day with 35,000kg of co2 being emitted from growing 12,000 rose stems in holland alone. flowers are also one of the top pesticide intensive agricultural crops. an estimated 22,700 pounds of pesticides are used on roses purchased for valentine’s day in the usa. that’s a big weight for our planet to bear. repercussions of industrial flower growth include loss of animal and plant species, water resources running dry and high levels of deadly chemicals leaching into the surrounding water and land. in addition to this the greenhouse gases produced from the transportation of cut flowers also add to the environmental impact.

locally grown plants or bouquets are the best of the bunch when it comes to buying flowers. the impact on the environment is lower and you also have the benefit of supporting local farms and florists. waitrose have a wide range of fairtrade flowers, as do arena flowers and the organic flower company. if you’re not feeling all that green fingered then have a go at making some paper flowers from re-used paper that will last a lifetime or get some ready made fairtrade felt flowers from love eco. for flowers that are as much a gift to the planet as to your loved one why not gift some plant seeds or shrubbery? this beautiful wild cherry tree will remind your loved one you care every day of the year as will a tree from tree2mydoor or a rose bush from your local garden centre.

ever since the cadbury’s milk tray man came along a box of chocolates is on every girl’s valentine’s wish list. what many people don’t realise is that 66% of carbon emissions when making chocolates comes from milk production, with the co2 footprint growing in the transportation process. with chocolate ingredients sourced from abroad there is little you can do about this unfortunately.

you can however make sure you buy fairtrade and organic-certified chocolates to reduce pesticide usage. green and blacks have a fantastic selection of fairtrade, organic chocolate, as do divine. for the real romantics by nature have some heart shaped organic chocolate lollies. chocolala are a firm favourite of mine with their gorgeous hand crafted chocs and chocolate dipped fruit. if you fancy yourself as a bit of a jamie oliver then have a go at making your own chocolate or chocolate dipped strawberries. trust me boys, this one will go down a treat and if you’re lucky your lady might reward you with a beer and bars gift box from green and blacks!

for all you helpless environmantics out there the selection of eco gifts on offer means there is something for everyone. it really is the thought that counts at valentine’s and a hand-made gift not only shows you care but also cuts down on all the plastic and packaging commonly found in valentine’s gifts. the guardian has a great selection of ideas from photo flick books to edible underwear!

if you’re after a more traditional gift such as jewellery bear in mind the environmental and ethical concerns. the average footprint of a gold ring for example adds up to 18 tonnes of waste and 5 tonnes of water, with the human cost of gold mining being even greater. low wages, poor working conditions and child labour are all prevalent problems. the same can be said of diamond production. luckily there are lots of ethical and fairtrade stores whose designs are stunning. check out fifi bijoux for ethically mined gold pendants and certified diamonds. made and cred also have selections that will delight even the pickiest of princesses. for those who like their jewellery to be a little different then something from uncommonly beautiful or the natural store is perfect.

if jewellery isn’t your thing then ascension has a wide range of eco fashion, beauty and homewares. just remember to stock up on BecoHangers to hang all those new clothes on! ecocentric also have a great selection to choose from, i especially like this ‘love’ cushion and ‘love love tea and cookies’. a framed piece of artwork makes a lovely gift that can be appreciated forever more. boutiko have a stylish ‘love love love print’ or you could make your own.

it’s a well known fact that gift shopping gives even the most hardened of men a headache so it’s only fair to reward all that [hopeful!] effort. for a touch of geek chic these circuit board cuff links or organiser from my eco store are great. the store also does these fab grolsch tumblers and recycled bottle top fridge magnets. for the fashion savvy check out surfers against sewage or love eco for a bicycle tyre belt. music lovers will go gaga over these recycled vinyl coasters and clocks. remember to wrap all your gifts with recycled paper or re-use magazines and newspaper for quirky and unique presentation.

and that’s valentine’s day from a to well, v! we hope you all have a great valentine’s day… and if you get a card with a mysterious paw print on it i can tell you now it’s probably from the teddy…

natalie the bunny. x.

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