First, some bad news…those roses that are such popular Valentine’s Day gifts are probably from Columbia in South America, where they are heavily doused with chemicals. Pesticides usage isn't regulated in Columbia and they pose a great threat to the health of the workers. Pesticide run-off also poisons the waterways and land, sickening fish and wildlife. Even the handling of the roses by florists isn’t safe. If you see white residue on roses—or other flowers—those are pesticides. So, if you are going to buy roses for V-day, make them organic and/or from the US or Holland.
The following are some green alternatives for the holiday. With few exceptions, even a green gift leaves some imprint on the planet. Instead of exchanging material gifts, an eco-friendly option is to exchange services. Something romantic, like massages, or breakfast in bed, or trade favors.
If you give or receive any gift that isn’t liked, it isn’t green, as it is unwanted and will not be used. My husband and I do an alternative to gift exchanging. When we first met, we bought each other gifts. As the years went by, however, we realized that gift-giving was nearly impossible.
However, my husband and I do enjoy artwork and hand-made crafts and buying them together. Just after we moved into our new home, we found a beautiful, eco-friendly, wall fountain that was perfect for our entryway. So, we bought it for our birthdays, which are 12 days apart. Somehow, the fountain feels more special because we bought it together to celebrate our births.
We stick to natural hand-made products and artwork—so it’s green. Plus, because we buy only what we love, we will have these things forever—they are objects that someone will always want and art will never find its way into landfill.
You can find art in your local community, at art and craft fairs, on vacations, even online. You don’t necessarily need to spend a lot of money and your purchases helps support the individual and the arts. And, you get to live with unique and beautiful pieces.
If you are just getting into a green lifestyle, I know it can be confusing to determine what is and isn’t green. The following is a basic guide.
· The closer to home the better—less transportation equals less pollution from transportation.
· Products made from renewable resources are good; non-renewable, meaning only finite amounts of the product are available, are bad.
· Avoid the use of petrochemicals whenever possible. Petrochemicals come from oil which is a finite resource. When burned—like in your car—it emits CO2, which is bad for the environment. Used in a wide variety of products, chemicals can outgass into your home and make you sick; plastic containers in the microwave leech into food. Finally, petrochemical-based products take forever to disintegrate and as they do, they leech into the ground and water. All plastic, synthetic products, chemicals and more come from oil. Whenever you can, avoid using.
· Recycled anything is good—paper, aluminum, glass, etc.
· Wood from sustainable, renewable forests is good. Bamboo is good.
· Think natural, non-toxic, abundant, and biodegradable.