How to minimize your waste this Valentines Day!

Valentine’s day is meant to be a day and an opportunity to celebrate love in all its forms, whether that be Self-love, platonic and/or romantic love. It is also the one day in a year that is often known to be socially acceptable to use really, (really), bad puns as a way to tell everyone how much you care about them. Understandably, however, valentines day is not a day everyone loves to celebrate. For some (including myself) Valentine’s Day can be viewed as just another holiday which corporations capitalize on our wasteful and consumerist behavior. It often makes me wonder if it’s taken some of the true meaning out of this special day. You buy something, you gift it, you forget it. At least, that’s the general cycle I went through when purchasing gifts. However, when we think about some of our most cherished moments in life, you’ll begin to notice one important thing – and that is that these memories are often created by people and or home and hand made authentic and unique gifts.

So how can something that is often practically free and or low costing resonate so deeply? I personally think it comes from mindfulness. When we allow ourselves to take the time from our busy lives and create something so personal for someone out of pure love, we consciously become connected to the moment, to what valentines day is really about – pure, selfless, love. 

I think when we really reflect on this, we can all agree that a gigantic teddy bear (that’ll probably be thrown out a few weeks later) or other holiday-themed junk, is just destined for landfill and therefore isn’t really that desirable. BUT, this doesn’t mean you can’t be festive! You can definitely still have so much fun on valentines day (and romance) without cheaply made junk. Gifts should evoke a long-lasting memory. So, with all this in mind, here are some ideas I found for making a total romantic, memorable and (minimal) waste-free valentines day!. 

1.The Treats: 

Instead of buying a heart-shaped box of sweets like every other person for your significant other, try baking some homemade treats! Cookies, brownies, cakes.. the list goes on! you can even bake them in heart shapes and dye them red if you’re feeling creative. 

Not into baking or just don’t have the time? Hit up your local grocery store and fill up a glass jar of candy, or perhaps some dried fruits or nuts!. You can even spice this up by finding some old ribbon lying around the house and tying it around the jar!. Alternatively, if you do not wish to have jars, you can find mini stainless steel containers almost anywhere these days and are excellent alternatives when it comes to avoiding unnecessary packaging on items, including treats like these!.

2. The Card: 

A great alternative to buying a $7 cheesy card down at your local shops is making your own! I was always taught that a handwritten note on a blank piece of paper was better than signing your name on a sappy Hallmark card. It’s totally up to you how you wish to design your own card, what shape and, or what colour it is! There are also some pretty funny (and cheesy) valentines puns you can find to put in your cards if you do a quick google search! If your feeling extra creative and sustainable try making your own your own DIY paper to write your funny valentines puns and love messages on! see below a picture of what I mean with the step by step instructions on how to! 

If your not in the mood for making your own, don’t have the time or aren’t a fan of pre-made cards, have no fear because alternatives are here! Package Free Shop (https://packagefreeshop.com/collections/plantable-cards) sell a variety of sustainable- special occasion cards. Not only are they cute, but if you plant these cards they grow into wildflowers! Yes – really! these incredible cards are made from recycled paper and seeds, so when you’re done with them plant them in the ground and watch them grow!.

3. The Meal: 

Instead of spending ridiculous amounts of money on a valentines day themed meal at a crowded and loud restaurant, why not make your loved one dinner at home. Now, I know what your thinking, how can just another night in at home be romantic? Oh, in so many ways! Set the mood by lighting a few candles and some cheesy, romantic music in the background!. 

If you’re not convinced at staying in for the night, why not try a zero-waste picnic? Grab a basket, some cloth (reusable) napkins, stainless steel cutlery (or reusable bamboo cutlery), a stainless steel lunch box and some glass cups (if they’re not too heavy). In regards to food, that’s really up to you! I am an absolute sucker for anything with cheese, so my go-to is normally a French style picnic with bread, crackers, cheese, fruit and even some desert (such as your homemade treats!). Make sure when you prepare your meals that you buy as much package-free food as possible i.e. fresh produce, baked goods, meat/cheese from butcher counters and bulk items! Of course, what food you bring is also dependant on what kind of meal or time of the day you are working with. 

4. The Flowers: 

Flowers are great for all sorts of occasions and sure are a classic for valentines day. If you’re wanting to buy your special someone flowers, skip the store-bought, plastic-wrapped flowers and opt for your local flower shop. Often these flowers are locally sourced and therefore better for so many reasons, including giving back to the community rather than big corporate business. Another perk to this is you often get to choose from a variety of flowers which quite often come beautifully wrapped in butcher paper (if they don’t do this automatically don’t be afraid to ask!). 

An alternative to flowers could also be a small pot plant (also purchasable at such local flower stores). Plant it in a second-hand planter pot or even a cute vintage mug! 

5. The Gesture:

 Looking for more ways to show just how much you love your significant other? Try a romantic, personalized playlist, or check out what your local offers in terms of memorable experiences. Some may include:

  • Tickets to a concert
  • Tickets to a sporting event 
  • Attend a festival
  • Plan a pub crawl
  • Take a painting class 

Another nice gesture is reliving your first date! This is sure to bring back some special memories and remind each one of you the many reasons why you fell head over heels for each other. Keep in mind, however (depending on what your first date looked like) to utilize some of your new zero waste skills to avoid trash (try purchasing a zero waste kit too!). 

6. The Sexy Time:

There’s nothing less sustainable then unplanned pregnancies or the spread of STI’s…While condoms may save many from this situation, not all condoms are equally safe for our environment – but alas do not fear because there are options! If you use condoms and are interested in minimizing your waste this valentines day, here is a brand that keeps both the environment and your health a top priority (see below). Setting the mood can also be waste-free, try some sultry, woodsy-scented sticks of Palo Santo – also great for relaxation and meditation!. 

Still want more? What’s more romantic than a sensual massage by candlelight, minus the $80pp fee you pay at a spa! Save yourself some cash and enjoy the massage in the comfort of your own home. All you need is some organic body oil, candles and a set of hands! Grab these organic goods at the Package Free Shop online! (https://packagefreeshop.com/collections/plantable-cards)

So, with all this said – let’s ignore the pressure we feel to shower our loved ones with things and instead focus on the gestures and affirmations that really allow someone to feel truly loved and appreciated. Oh!, and for the solo and single men and ladies make it all about waste free, self-care! Say no to commercialism and say yes to filling life with memories, not stuff! So, go get creative, have fun and keep it as waste-free as we can – give yourself the waste-free challenge this valentines day!