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How to be more sustainable this Valentine’s Day

The 14th of February, while a celebration of romance, brings a great deal of environmental concern. In efforts to tackle climate change, learn how you can make eco-friendly and sustainable choices this year.

Valentine’s Day is, for the most part, synonymous with compassion and endearment. However, its focus on consumerism and single-use products makes it a particularly concerning holiday for the environment.

With the ongoing climate crisis, individual environmental responsibility is become increasingly more pressing. As we continue to hear troubling news about our oceans, microplastics, waste, emissions, and everything in between, many of us are interested in avoiding throwaway culture.

Consider yourself part of this group? Here’s a few tricks to help you stay responsible this Valentine’s Day.

Consider digital cards rather than purchasing traditional gifts

Many of us are guilty of throwing away cards after a certain period of time. Unfortunately, most end up in landfills. Components of the card, such as glitter and glues, are likely to end up in the ocean and are often consumed by marine life.

Most greeting cards found in stores are bleached, releasing toxins into ecosystems and harming wildlife. One way or another, the lethal substances these greeting cards are laced with end up in food chains, eventually influencing the health of humans.

For those who prefer showing love through greeting cards, it can still be done through other means.

With platforms like Canva aiding so many in their graphic design ventures, this platform can be used to create specialised digital cards. These platforms offer templates that can be customised with ease and you won’t be chucking anything into the ocean, most crucially.

Buy your flowers locally

Due to climate change, yields of roses continue to decrease as they struggle to adapt to hotter weather.

As a result, roses are outsourced and imported from other countries such as the Netherlands, Kenya, Ethiopia, and Ecuador.

Specifically in Kenya, 60% of the flowers produced are roses. With the value of floral exports being valued at $500 billion in the country, the need for export quality flowers brings in the use of pesticides in flower farms.

Pesticides are known to prevent the growth of a specific flora, however, they pose a threat to other organisms once soil and water in the surrounding environment is contaminated. Since rose farms in Kenya are alongside Lake Naivasha, any organic matter that the water reaches could have its growth and lifespan deterred.

Similar to greeting cards, flowers are imported by planes which produce 3.16 kg of carbon dioxide per 1 kg of fuel used. The consumption of local flowers thereby heavily reduces your overall carbon footprint.

To reduce effects like this, opt for local flowers that are native to the area. This reduces the need for pesticides as they are already adapted to successful growth.

Imported flowers are expensive due to the costs associated with transport and manpower.  Additionally, native flowers are more likely to thrive in the climate they are grown, making them last longer than imported flowers.

Know where your chocolates are sourced from

The cacao bean is the main ingredient of every traditional chocolate and is mostly grown in Africa.

These beans are harvested and then distributed to third party companies. However, child labour and slavery has been proven to be in use in countries such as Cameroon, Guinea, Nigeria, and Sierra Leone, among others.

Workers earn less than a dollar a day despite being put through the harshest of conditions.

Children who have been sold to cocoa farms do not see their families for long periods of time and work up to at least 14 hours a day. They are forced to operate dangerous equipment such as chainsaws and machetes whilst climbing up trees.

In an effort to boycott these types of companies, fair trade chocolates are your best option. These chocolates ensure that businesses embark on a sustainable and ethical model that ensures the fair pay of workers involved in the entire production process.

Purchase eco-friendly packaging wherever you can

Popular plastic packaging takes hundreds of years to decompose. Some is burned to make room for more waste which releases toxins into the air.

Try and opt for packaging made from recycled materials or, better yet, re-use old packaging that you might have lying around your home. This minimises the need to source virgin materials to create new packaging.

In conclusion, the choices you make have the ability to make or break the planet. Celebrate this Valentine’s Day with environmentally friendly alternatives to the norms. At the end of the day, the future of the planet lies in each decision we make.