We challenge you to create love, not waste this Valentine’s Day.
During the holidays in the United States, Americans produce about one million extra tons of waste per week (Reduce, 2021). According to an article written by Stanford’s environmental wing, if families were to reuse “two feet of holiday ribbon, the 38,000 miles of ribbon saved could tie a bow around the entire planet” (Frequently, 2020). And “If every American family wrapped just 3 presents in re-used materials, it would save enough paper to cover 45,000 football fields” (Frequently 2020). Going into Valentine’s Day, it’s important to understand the environmental effects of our consumerism and what we can do to mitigate the harm we cause.
February 14th, 2021 is predicted to be worth nearly $22 billion with $2 billion of that being spent on flowers. So what’s the big deal about buying flowers? How can something so natural have such a negative environmental impact? Well, the majority of those flowers are roses. The problem with flowers being the face of Valentine’s Day is that February 14th in the dead of winter in the Northern Hemisphere, which means that the majority of those roses are coming from the Southern Hemisphere (*cough cough* carbon emissions). This is the biggest factor in flower gifting being an unsustainable option for Valentine’s Day. In 2019, Columbia alone shipped over 4 billion roses to the U.S. Aside from the weeks before Valentine’s Day, flowers are usually shipped on passenger planes that are already flying, so not as big of an environmental impact; however, in the weeks leading up to Valentine’s Day, “hundreds of cargo planes full of flowers fly from the Andes to Miami” (Valle, 2019). This means that more than 15,000 tons of flowers are delivered to the U.S. in less than a month. So what do these flower flights mean for the environment? Over 25% of U.S. transportation emissions come from freighting items via air, land and sea (*cough cough* flowers that can’t survive naturally in cold climates, but are in high demand throughout the winter). According to the International Council on Clean Transportation, flower delivery flights burn over 114 million liters of fuel, which translates into 360,000 metric tons of emitted carbon dioxide. To top it all off, once the flowers are on the ground in the U.S., the flower deliveries have an additional impact, being that they have to be refrigerated in order to ensure the flowers show up at your Valentine's doorstep in pristine shape, and refrigerated trucks use 25% more fuel than regular ones do (Valle 2019).
As we all know, chocolate usually accompanies those flowers we are buying. American shoppers will spend about $2 billion on candy this Valentine’s Day. Some companies make sustainable chocolate, but more chocolate companies than not include palm oil in their manufacturing (bye-bye rainforest) and cocoa that is also sourced from land carved through deforestation practices. ⅔ of the world’s cocoa is sourced from West Africa on land that used to be forest (Mohammad, 2020).
Additionally, the majority of the $2 billion worth of candy we are purchasing leading up to Valentine's Day is wrapped in plastic. Plastic is taking over the world and has been for quite some time. Around Valentine’s Day, we see an influx in plastic usage---plastic hearts, plastic casing around cards, plastic wrapping around those cute little individual chocolates, plastic trinkets. Those plastics are easy to see. They’re especially easy to see when you look at something like the Pacific Garbage Patch. But plastic pollution is not just an ocean or a climate issue, it’s a human health issue. Something that people don’t usually think about is the plastics in the products that they’re gifting. You know those socks that come in fun colors and large quantities at stores like Costco? They are full of plastic and coated in dyes and chemicals--that’s why they seemingly don’t wear out and feel really durable. Alternatively, you can purchase products that use little to no plastics in their manufacturing (*cough cough alpaca wool products).
The plastic itself is a huge problem, but so is the creation of plastic. According to a report released by the Center for International Environmental Law, “plastics originate as fossil fuels and emit greenhouse gases from cradle to grave”. The creation of plastic boils down to oil, gas and coal. It’s estimated that roughly 13 million metric tons of carbon dioxide equivalent are emitted each year during the extraction process and transportation of natural gases just to create feedstocks for plastics (Bauman, 2020).
So what can you do? How can you enjoy a day celebrating love without creating excessive waste? Shop small. Shop local. Shop smart. In 2019, 43 million Americans received an unwanted gift, which resulted in $9.5 million spent on unwanted things (*cough cough* waste) (Kiernan 2021).
Here's a list of ways to celebrate and dote on your sweetheart this Valentine’s Day while reducing your waste:
- Send a gift card (ours send via email, so there is no waste at all).
- Send an e-card--they may be cheesy, but they can be so fun to make and to receive!
- Buy durable gifts--not the classic shopping mall fads--think about how many mood rings and cheap plastic necklaces end up in the landfills.
- Homemade gifts (we have gifts made in Bozeman, MT by hand).
- Buy gear that helps make environmentally friendly decisions possible (warm clothes to bike and walk to work in).
- Avoid cheap gifts, because they break easily and end up in the landfills.
- 15% of people expect to receive a stuffed animal as a gift this Valentine's Day (Kiernan, 2021), so why not gift a sustainable alpaca stuffed animal?
Create love not waste this Valentine's Day, shop alpaca!
Tired of reading about how harmful Valentine’s Day can be? Watch a video that Waste 360 put together about the effects of Cupid’s Day: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IqQxs_UoHWI&feature=emb_logo
The United Nations made a Valentine’s day video, it’s time to break up with plastic: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-DEc16dEMns&feature=emb_logo
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Kiernan, J. (2021, February 02). Valentine's Day Facts – Gifts, money & more. Retrieved
Mohammad, L. (2020, February 12). 6 ways to break up with plastic and food waste on
Valentine's Day. Retrieved from
New York State. Sustainable holidays. (2020). Retrieved from
Ohio EPA. Reduce waste generated during the holidays. (2020). Retrieved from
Systems, B. (2017, May 02). Tis' the Season...for Waste – the environmental impact of the
holidays. Retrieved from
United Nations Environment. For Valentine's Day, UN environment wing is urging everyone to
'break up' with single-use plastic | | UN NEWS. (2020). Retrieved from
Valle, G. (2019, February 12). The hidden environmental cost of Valentine's DAY roses.
Retrieved from https://www.vox.com/the-goods/2019/2/12/18220984/valentines-day-flowers-roses-envir
Waste 360. (2020, February 14). The environmental impact of valentine's day. Retrieved