Another How To Green Your Valentines Day Post!

You either: love Valentine ’s Day, hate it or are completely ambivalent about it! Which ever it is you clearly think something about it if you ended up here reading this post! *smirk*

I have already seen articles and blog posts about “how to green” your Valentines Day blah blah… so being the dutiful or not so dutiful green-band-wagon-blogger that I am, I contemplated doing a similar article. The thing is that I don’t actually believe in Valentines Day, well at least not in the manner in which we tend to celebrate it anyway….. No, I am not an alien or some weird species of mad tree hugging anti joy and happiness type of person! I actually love the thought of champers, prezzies, and chocolates and being spoilt etc… I just think that picking one day in a year to do so an absolute waste of time, effort, emotion, money and natural resources. I think everyday should be Valentines Day and we should always show our loved ones and Valentines that we love and appreciate them (without being a stalker though… )
Here are a few reasons that Valentines Day needs a bit of a rethink, other than the inherent cheesiness. You should think about:

  • Trees grown in unsustainable monoculture plantations cut down to make cheesy cards. Imagine the waste of resources….
  • Flowers are grown in monoculture plantations, where farmers in all likelihood using GM seeds, too much water in water poor areas of the world and are shipped around the world in refrigerated planes and trucks emitting GHG emissions etc… (see the article on greening tips and flowers)
  • Flowers wrapped in plastic that will be grossly overpriced for the day… what’s the point?
  • Cheesy yucky tasting chocolates and sweets that will be molded into heart and cupid etc shapes that will be sold all over the place and will most probably be thrown away by recipients who don’t like said yucky chocolate which will in any event be on sale two days after Valentines Day …. Rather save the worlds chocolate resources and buy good quality sustainably produced chocolate that actually tastes nice and is good for the planet.
  • Think of all the waste when the valentine hued cards, wrapping and uneaten chocolates, flowers etc that will have to disposed of…
  • Underwear that is supposed to be made from sustainably grown/sourced cotton that is not really that good for the environment or the communities that it was meant to benefit. (see the article on Victoria’s Secret for more info)
  • The stress caused by all the build up to Valentines Day and the possibility of being rejected by the person you choose to be your valentine…. this can be particularly unsustainable to humans….
  • The list just goes on and on ….

So instead my message is celebrate Valentines Day… just don’t be a cheesy eco-douche and fall for all the green wash! You don’t have to spend mad cash on overpriced “pretend” sustainable flowers, organic champers or not so sustainable Victoria’s Secret underwear or whatever it is that you do on Valentines Day. Rather make a Valentines gesture that is sustainable and has a more sustainable impact on the environment:

Some options for those of you trying to be a bit nicer to the planet this Valentines Day are:

  • Do nothing (and risk being ostracized, broken up with etc. This is a good option for those wanting to end a relationship on Valentines Day!) (-1000 points)
  • Make a homemade Valentines Day card … preferably using organic, sustainable sourced paper and ink etc (+20 points) for your loved one.
  • Cook your Valentine an organic home cooked meal. Ideally you would have grown the veggies at home using the worm juice/tea from your wormery, but if not, at east try and source the food from a reliable non-green wash supermarket chain (see article on supermarket refrigeration and GHG emissions) or local farmers market. (+ 50 points if you swopped some organic veggies and worm tea with the vineyard down the road for organic wine or champers to accompany the meal.) Additional information on more sustainable food consumption can be found in this article.)
  • Adopt an endangered species/ donate to worthy cause in the name of your Valentine! Please note that adoption of an orangutan, rhino, gorilla or panda does not mean you are to bring the animal home for your valentine. The aim here is to contribute to helping out the conservation of the species not facilitate increased poaching or removal of species from their natural environments. (Extra points directly linked to the more endangered the species and the larger the donation!) I am not going to tell you what to adopt or which cause to donate to. You should know what the worthy causes in your area are.
  • Plant an indigenous tree/ plant/ flower with your Valentine to symbolize your love …. (be sure to water and look after it ….. don’t let it die as that could be taken as an bad omen for your relationship)… cheesy I know but at least you will hopefully help with carbon reduction and the prevention of biodiversity loss.
  • Pick a flower from your/ a garden and give it to your Valentine. Preferably, an indigenous flower (+10 points) grown in a safe non-pesticide using garden.
  • Spend quality time with you Valentine/ loved one etc. This has particularly low resource consumption, though if you have to travel halfway around the world to do so your carbon miles may actually make this option unsustainable for you, so maybe you should try something else… or public transport.
  • These are just a few options, if you can’t find anything that suits your here do an internet search and you should find a good green Valentines Day option to suit you!

The point is that there are tons of things you can do, to have a greener and more sustainable Valentines Day so please try and stay away from the unnecessary consumption, and resource depleting type of Valentines Day and don’t be an eco-douche!

Extras, Ethical Consumption & My Paul Smith Handbag Crush

I think it particularly important that the extras, luxuries and nice to “haves” that one buys are the ones that need to go that extra mile not just to show value for money but also value for the environment and ethics.

The BAG! (www.paulsmith.co.uk)

(This post should have been or could have been entitled “I am no greenie saint….but I try in my own little way… now please can I have that bag!”)

Being a “greenie” and wanting make the greenest, most ethical and earth-friendly decisions is not always easy. In fact green decision-making and consumption is fraught with speed-bumps and pot-holes in the form of green wash, the misrepresentation of products as green, ethical, sustainable and or ecological friendly. Green, sustainability and environmental issues have been hijacked and often products are labeled as green/organic etc when in my opinion they are pretty far from green or good for the environment or the consumers. In many instances i try to buy green, ethical or sustainable products but end up buying products that don’t quite fit your/ or my idea of ethical, green or sustainable. A few examples are;

  • Organic produce that ends up having the most awful carbon miles, having been shipped/flown in from a far off continent.
  • Buying a natural, recyclable etc product but it has been made in a sweatshop with GM cotton or some other nasty type of raw material.
  • Using a natural face cream (that doesn’t harm animals) but has resulted in the monoculture and deforestation (resource inputs such as palm oil, shea butter etc) of large tracts if land which has negatively affected the biodiversity of an area.
  • Installing solar panels in your home in an attempt to reduce your carbon footprint only to find out that the panels are produced in a far off country that doesn’t really mind if you the solar panel factory is polluting the catchment within which it is located causing the ill-health and loss of livelihoods to entire villages etc….

And there I was thinking that I was making ethical consumption choices that would help the planet …. ??

So what is one to do….??  I guess in order to retain ones sanity and not over think each and every thing you end up consuming, the most logical thing make a difference where you can. The approach I take in trying to be a green consumer entails not blindly buying into advertising, green wash and misinformation etc by reading labels and using some logic. For me this implies (among other things)… trying to restrict my consumption patterns to;

  • Needs as opposed to wants.
  • Buying local, organic and ethical and making sure where possible that the claims about the product are not simply green wash.
  • Being logical about labeling and checking labels
  • Staying away from overly processed and packed products
  • Staying away from GM… though this can be very difficultly considering that GM produce is not always labeled etc
  • etc…

Sometimes my wants become needs… (often this relates to fashion items… which surprisingly have quite poor green/ethical track records…given that fashion is often regarded a luxury etc ) and then I try to find a “good green thing“ about the lust-have product that is hopefully not negated by a long list of really bad things about the product/lust have that is occupying my every waking moment.

My latest lust have is a handbag. More specifically, a Paul Smith handbag. Not being a brand hag but really liking nice things…. I was initially quite confused by my need for this specific bag….. however, it seems that I have fallen hopelessly in love with the handbag.

It is a multi-colour, leather bag that would work with almost all of my clothes… in other words it is almost perfect. I would be able to wear it for a good few seasons ..(I don’t believe in blindly following the glossies or what the fashion gurus say is the it item etc so I don’t mind wearing stuff that is considered as being “ohh so five seasons ago)… so I think the bag would be a good buy. I could probably use it until it falls apart, and / or is recycled into something else or used by someone else. I could see myself being a little old lady and still using the bag…in other words I would be willing to commit to the bag….

It would seem that I have already justified the addition of the bag to my world…. But when I tried to research Paul Smith and their environmental/ sustainability policy, to try to shut up my conscience and make me feel better about wanting something that I don’t really need… I didn’t find any information!? Is this even possible? In this day and age surely I am not the only person wondering what this particular brand thinks/ does etc about being more ethical, sustainable and green?

Maybe they are taking the highroad and not green washing their products until they can stand by all their green and ethical claims…?  … or maybe the brand is just not interested in ethical or green consumption?

Please can someone tell me that I am wrong? I really would like to be able to find something positive, ethical or green about Paul Smith?  And I really would like to buy the bag…..