Why you should care?Traditional Valentine’s day gifts like chocolates and flowers harm the planet in unnecessary ways.
by Hey Social Good
Valentine’s Day is upon us. You’re frantically searching around to buy gifts for your friends, boss, and maybe a special someone. We’d love for you to pause and not buy any old gift to meet another holiday gift buying extravaganza. Did you know that the mindless buying of the millions of Valentine’s Day gifts causes harm to field workers and the planet? Find out about the harm from getting flowers, chocolates and wine for your Valentine’s Day celebration. Then, read and click to spend a sustainable Valentine’s Day worth loving!
The amount of flowers purchased, packaged, transported and delivered in the week before Valentine’s Day reaches its peak in February of every year. Most people don’t realize that this large scale commercial flower bouquet buying causes detrimental effects on the planet. Most of the rose bouquets sold in the US are flown in from other countries. Colombia alone shipped more than 4 billion flowers to the US in 2018.
To support this mass demand for flowers at a cheap rate, we import most of the flowers from countries in the Southern Hemisphere because flower growing season is optimal during Spring in the Southern Hemisphere rather than the cold Winter season in the Northern Hemisphere. To prepare for the onslaught of flower bouquets purchased on Valentine’s Day, many countries in South America have cleared forests to grow fields of flowers to support American’s commercial tradition.
Along with this, consider the pressure to speed a flower’s blooming time, which can only happen with increasing pesticide and fertilizer additions to our soils. This unnatural addition causes soil deterioration and eventual land desertification. In addition to this unsustainable growing practice, unregulated labor laws and working environments exacerbate poor treatment of flower growers, harvesters, and workers leading up to Valentine’s Day.
Once the flowers are package-ready, they are trucked or flown to the US. Roses are brought in from Central and South America and transported across the country in refrigerated trucks. The enormous amount of jet and truck fuel burned and CO2 emitted contribute to increasing air pollution over a short week’s time. Altogether, the more than 100 million roses gifted on Valentine’s Day emit approximately 9,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide. Finally, following Valentine’s Day on February 14th, flower waste fills our garbage cans, streets, and landfills.
Chocolates and wine are two other Valentine’s Day favorites. Americans consume 881,000 bottles of sparkling wine and 58 million pounds of chocolate during the Valentine’s Day holiday. Given this large volume, consider making a shift to Fairtrade chocolate and organic wines. Imagine the sustainable POSITIVE IMPACT this can have on people and the planet. Let’s do the hypothetical math. Some give back companies will donate 1% or 25 cents for each bottle of wine to a non-profit organization working to improve our forests or worker practices. Given the 881,000 bottles of wine and a 25 cent donation, this results in approximately $220,000 donated! Yeah, we’re that geeky about living and loving a sustainable Valentine’s Day.
Cards sent via snail mail are unbelievably precious these days. With our lives tied so much to our computers right now, a handwritten card seems extra special! But, consider the number of trees needed to produce paper cards, and the amount of trash from 80 million cards we send for Valentine’s day. It’s time we get to loving digital cards!
We know it’s extremely upsetting to look at a beautiful bouquet of flowers, box of chocolates, or bottle of wine, and then think of the negative impacts on people and the planet. But, knowledge is power and with this knowledge, we can shift and change the practices and tradition. Each of us have the power to choose better (not perfect) options, and create a sustainable Valentine’s Day.
This Valentine’s Day, make one single positive impact and choose one of our recommendations for a sustainable Valentine’s Day!
Keywords: Valentines Day 2021, Chocolate, Flowers, Wine, Jewelry, Love, Coffee, Phone Accessories, Black Dress, Necklace, Hot Chocolate, Truffles, Valentine’s, fairtrade, sustainable practice, ecofriendly, environmental impacts, planet, workers
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