If you celebrate Valentines then perhaps you’ve been wondering how to make the occasional special and treat your loved one (or yourself) in a way that’s gentle to the environment. We’ve come up with some ideas to make those St Dwynwen's and St Valentine's classics - flowers, chocolates, and a romantic dinner - more sustainable.
It’s also a great time of year to show decision makers that we want to see real and rapid action to tackle the climate and nature crisis, by taking part in The Climate Coalition’s powerful Show The Love campaign. Read on to find out more…
Flowers feel like a green and natural option – how could something that makes a bee happy be bad for the environment? But all is not what it seems…many of the issues surrounding other forms of agriculture are also part of the cut flower industry.
Only 14% of flowers sold in Britain were grown here. As they are such a delicate product, they need to be transported in refrigerated containers, often by plane, from around the world. Many of the flowers we buy here were grown in Kenya or Columbia – and most of those grown closer to home were produced in energy intensive hothouses.
To make things worse (sorry), the flower industry is one of the world’s biggest users of pesticides, polluting soil and groundwater, and harming people and wildlife. Finally, the flower industry is thirsty; to give an example, Lake Naivasha, centre of the industry in Kenya, has seen half of its water drawn off for use in flower greenhouses.
Here’s our tips for a greener alternative to flowers:
- If your love is green fingered, choose a pack of seeds or a living plant from a peat-free supplier. Perhaps you can find a variety with a name that has some significance to you?
- Craft a bunch of everlasting flowers. We love origami and kirigami flowers, and YouTube is full of tutorials for every level of folding ability.
- Gift a print of some flowers. Why give a bouquet that will last a week when you could support an independent artist and give a colourful gift that will brighten up a space for years.
- Make a donation to a rewilding organisation in their name.
If you really do want to give flowers then look for 100% British grown (an imported mixed bouquet produces ten times more emissions than a British-grown mixed bouquet), or you can use Flowers From the Farm to find a local grower near you, and buy from them direct.
Chocolate is – and I say this with deep sadness and regret – not a planet-friendly food. None of us want to gift our beloved deforestation, high carbon emissions, and child labour – so what to do?
If you are buying chocolate, opt for dark over milk or white – if you’re not a fan of the taste or texture of dark chocolate then give a plant-based milk choc a try – we like Cocoa Libre, King Monty and Kakoa for fancy looking, giftable treats.
Try and choose chocolate with the Rainforest Alliance or Fair Trade accreditation, and if you can, seek out brands that go the extra mile to make a difference, particularly in the area of paying farmers well and supporting reforestation.
What about alternatives to chocolate? How about…
- A new cook book?
- Homemade sweets or biscuits?
- A chocolate mint plant to grow in the garden or a window box?
- Make a batch of wildflower seed bombs and package them up like a box of chocolates! Just make sure you label them…
A classic candle-lit dinner!
For some reason, steak and (out of season) strawberries dipped in chocolate are considered the most romantic things you can cook – according to the internet anyway. How about some indulgent but planet-minded recipes? Here are a few to check out:
- Beetroot and red onion tarte tatin
- Mushroom skewers and satay sauce
- Rosemary garlic tofu bites
- Cauliflower steaks or celeriac steaks
- A plant-based fondue – yes, it’s a thing and it’s tasty!
- DIY dairy free truffles
- Indulgent chocolate brownie
- Or how about a plant based cheese and crackers feast – take a look at The Fauxmagerie for some special cheeses.
And as for the candles? As most candles are made from paraffin wax – a fossil fuel based product – we can make a difference by choosing alternatives. Beeswax and rapeseed wax are the most sustainable choices, followed by soy wax and coconut wax. Candles with wooden wicks, or even hemp, help reduce the amount of water and pesticide hungry cotton we’re using too.
If you find yourself left with some unlightable lumps of leftover candle, you can recycle them! Post them off to The Recycled Candle Company and they will turn them into beautiful new candles – you can even send them old tea light tins.
Show The Love
Even if you’re not into Valentines Day, you can still show the love this year and craft a green heart as part of Climate Coalition’s annual campaign. They’re asking for individuals and communities to make and gift a green heart to their MP, using it to ask your MP to ask them to write to the Prime Minister and Chancellor calling for leadership and action on climate and nature.
They have everything you need to get started, from crafting inspiration to suggested asks for your MP based on the latest recommendations from the Government’s independent advisors, the Climate Change Committee (CCC).
Check out some highlights from previous years – and if you decide to make a green heart please do send us a picture or tag us (@bemorsquirrel) on social. We’d love to help share your creation!