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Be my green Valentine
Send a message of love for your partner, and the environment too!
By QMI Agency
CANOE - Lifewise Updated: addthis

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, Last Updated: 2:30 PM ET


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Valentine’s Day has become big business. The National Retail Federation estimates that spending on Valentine’s Day will likely top $ 16.9 billion. (Shutterstock.com)

    With Valentine’s Day just around the corner, bouquets of roses, boxes of chocolates and candlelight dinners can’t be far behind.

    While these symbols of the romantic season may seem harmless enough, each one can carry a heavy environmental price tag.

    With the concern for the environment topping public opinion polls, combining a little romance with a touch of environmental sensitivity can be a very sensual thing.

    The high cost of love

    Valentine’s Day has become big business. The National Retail Federation estimates that spending on Valentine’s Day will likely top $ 16.9 billion. The average consumer will spend nearly $120 on the event.


    While Valentine’s Day was traditionally for lovers, heartfelt giving has expanded to include family, friends, and teachers, too. American Greetings offers the following statistics about how much people give (and spend) for Valentine’s:

    The average male is expected to spend at least $156

    The average female consumer will spend more than $85

    Biggest spenders – 25 to 34 year-olds

    What consumers buy:

    Greeting cards - 62.8%

    25% of all seasonal cards sent are Valentines

    Candy - 48.4%

    36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolates are sold annually

    Flowers - 36.7%

    A rose by any other name...

    Commercially grown roses and other imported flowers are often sprayed with a host of chemicals that contaminate groundwater and the workers who grow them. Over one million roses are shipped into Canada every year, but unlike food, there is no regulation that requires that they be tested for pesticide residues.

    According to Environment Canada, most roses travel very long distances to get here, which further adds to their environmental cost.

    Eco-friendlier Alternatives:

    Organic roses

    Locally-grown flowers

    Fair Trade certified flowers

    A plant (added bonus – lasts much longer than cut flowers)

    A gift certificate for a rose bush that can be redeemed in the spring (along with a promise to do the planting)

    Sending Messages of Love...

    When it comes to sending cards, Valentine’s Day is second only to Christmas. An estimated one billion Valentine cards are sent annually. Greenlivingtips.com estimates that laying all of these cards end to end would stretch around the world five times. That’s a lot of trees - and a lot of postage.

    Suggestions:

    E-cards - An estimated 10 million e-cards will be sent this Valentine’s Day

    Make your own – show your creative side and recycle old cards and other materials

    BONUS - Create a card that says, “I care enough about you to make a one-of-a-kind greeting that is as unique as you are.”

    Buy cards that are made from recycled paper or tree-free materials (such as hemp)

    Sweets for my sweet

    Chocolate is often considered a forbidden food, and with good reason. Commercial cocoa production often involves unsustainable agricultural practices and the exploitation of local producers.

    Suggestions:

    Buy organic chocolate

    Buy fair-trade chocolate and help to protect the workers who produce it

    BONUS - Organic chocolate is often available with a higher cocoa content, making it devilishly rich and so good it’s almost sinful

    Other gift ideas

    Gift certificates for natural therapies such as massages or health spas

    Show your “scent-sitive” side when buying perfumes. Purchase natural fragrances made from essential oils, rather than a cocktail of chemicals

    Purchase gifts from ethical trading companies, such as Ten Thousand Villages that offer fair trade items such as organic chocolate and coffee, hand-made jewelry and other unique items

    Wining and Dining

    Stepping out:

    If you’re planning to go out for that special Valentine’s Day dinner:

    Make reservations at a restaurant that features local foods

    Buy organic wines and support sustainable agricultural production

    BONUS – organic wines provide a healthier alternative, particularly for anyone with chemical sensitivities or environmental allergies

    Find a restaurant within walking distance and reduce your carbon footprint

    BONUS - Create an opportunity for a romantic walk home and eliminate any concerns about drinking and driving

    Dining at home:

    Dine by candlelight

    BONUS - it’s romantic and saves energy, too

    Use beeswax candles rather than regular wax candles, which are made from a petroleum by-product, a non-renewable resource

    Petroleum wax candles can release toxins into the air

    For safety, use votives, hurricane or other glass enclosures when burning candles

    Don’t forget to blow them out at the end of your romantic evening

    Food, glorious food!

    Once the table is set and the wine is poured, the next item up for consideration is the menu. The Toronto Vegetarian Association (TVA) recommends a romantic vegan dinner.

    According to the TVA, “Vegetarian aphrodisiacs – from chocolate and strawberries to tomatoes and peppers – are famous for their reputed arousing qualities, but did you know that there’s a scientific reason why meat-free cuisine is a recipe for romance? The cholesterol and fat in animal foods slow the flow of blood to all of a man’s vital organs – not just his heart – but healthy vegetarian foods will leave lovers full of energy and vitality.”

    The TVA says that for veggie lovers there are many fruits and vegetables that are natural aphrodisiacs.

    Suggestions:

    Appetizer: a salad made with organic greens and lightly steamed asparagus, drizzled with balsamic vinegar and olive oil

    Main Course: Oyster mushrooms sautéed with leeks and briefly sautéed cherry tomatoes served over quinoa or rice that has had a little turmeric cooked into it, and with a tiny bit of saffron mixed in

    Dessert: Strawberries and lots of dark chocolate dipping sauce (both organic, of course)

    This story was posted on Mon, February 8, 2010

    CANOE - Lifewise Template Includes: Main Valentines Right

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    , Last Updated: 9:37 AM ET


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