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Green your Valentine’s Day

With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, now is the perfect time to plan a green date night! Whether you’re buying gifts for a special someone or picking up some clearance candy on February 15, read on for tips on how to be a conscious consumer this month and every month. 

Maybe you’ve heard about buying local when it comes to the food in your kitchen, but have you ever wondered where those Valentine’s Day roses came from? Around 80% of flowers purchased are imported from other countries, which means that your bouquet might have a big carbon footprint.  When you’re looking for flowers for that special someone this Valentine’s Day, check your local farmer’s market or ask your florist to stock American-grown flowers. You can figure out where many flowers were grown just by checking the label. If you’re having trouble finding locally grown flowers, check out the Slow Flowers directory.  

With local flowers in hand, you’re ready to pick out the perfect box of chocolates. You certainly won’t be the only one buying chocolate this month – Americans will collectively consume about 58 million pounds of chocolate during the week of Valentine’s Day. To help feed this demand for chocolate, cocoa farmers often clear new land to increase their yield, which can cause massive deforestation. Cocoa plantations also routinely use child labor to help meet the demand. But cocoa can be produced sustainably – it can be grown in the shade, which can provide habitats for many endemic species.

So how can you find sustainably sourced chocolate? Look for products certified by the Rainforest Alliance, which are marked with the Rainforest Alliance’s frog logo. Certified products are produced according to rigorous sustainability standards that incorporate environmental, social, and economic criteria. And the fun doesn’t end with chocolate – keep an eye out for this logo when you’re shopping for coffee, tea, flowers and bananas to know you’re spending your consumer dollars on sustainable options.  

You’re almost ready for the perfect green date night. If you’re looking for a gift to complete the effect, consider ways to keep your gift green. Balloons may seem fun at first, but they can pose a threat to wildlife if they get away from you and end up in an animal’s habitat. Glitter might add a sparkle to date night, but it also contributes to plastic pollution. Consider instead making shredded paper confetti. You can even find plastic-free glitters such as Bio-glitter if you want the sparkle without the pollution.  When you’re ready to wrap the perfect present, try to avoid any shiny or sparkly wrapping paper, as it usually isn’t recyclable. Old newspapers or junk mailers provide unique wrapping paper and give you the opportunity to reuse materials you probably have lying around.

What’s more romantic than showing someone you care about them and about the environment this Valentine’s Day? And there’s no need to abandon your sustainable shopping after you’ve pulled off your green date night. These tips will allow you to help save wild animals and their habitats long after the clearance candy is gone.
Katharine Walls
Supervisor of Adult Volunteers

Connect With Your Wild Side #onlyzooatl