"Nowadays, Valentine’s Day is right up there with Black Friday and Cyber Monday as a mindless consumer holiday."
The Christmas decorations have only just been taken down and businesses are already moving onto the next blockbuster event in the marketing calendar: Valentine’s Day.
It’s almost like we can’t make it more than just a few weeks without another big consumer holiday.
What began as a holiday with both ancient Roman and Christian roots has morphed into just another reason for mindless mass-consumption. Over the centuries we have gone from celebrating love with the exchange of poems or notes conveying our affection for a loved one, to a multi-billion dollar industry preying on consumer guilt.
Nowadays, Valentine’s Day is right up there with Black Friday and Cyber Monday as a mindless consumer holiday.
Marketers are using every trick in the book
Using the powerful psychology of love, romance and relationships, people are guilt-tripped by marketers into thinking that in order to show your love for someone, it is necessary to buy them something they don’t particularly need, or were happy enough without.
Statistics from the National Retail Federation in the US predict that a record total of $27.4Bn will be spent on gifts in 2020, making it one of the biggest shopping days of the year, second only to Black Friday in commercial status.
The majority of the market still comprises the traditional cards, chocolates, flowers and jewellery, but has expanded to include everything from stuffed toys to clothing and electronics, putting it firmly into the bracket of another masterful piece of consumerist propaganda.
Such is the pressure that it’s now near mandatory to do something, however last-minute, or risk coming off as inconsiderate and uncaring.
Even if you’re single there’s no escaping the targeted messaging as people with best friends, children and pets are all subject to the drive to sell unneeded trinkets. And that's not even mentioning Single's Day, but one thing at a time.
Just like Black Friday, the environmental impact of this day of consumption is enormous
Long stem roses, for example, are the classic Valentine’s Day flowers. They are a delicate warm weather plant and in order for them to be available in the northern hemisphere during cooler months, they have to be either air-freighted in from warmer countries and then kept refrigerated; or grown in greenhouses fuelled with artificial heat when the natural solar heat is not sufficient.
According to an article in Vox, American shoppers were expected to spend nearly $2 billion on flowers last year on Valentine's Day — most of them roses.
Roses may be red, but when it comes to the environmental impact of producing them for Valentine’s Day, they’re definitely not green.
Add to roses the range of other products produced, packaged and delivered specifically for Valentine’s Day and the environmental costs soar even higher. As we’re coerced into demonstrating our love for one another through consumerism, we’re creating a heartbreak for the planet.
On a lighter note, every relationship is different. Some of you may actively avoid Valentine’s Day altogether and choose to celebrate your love for each other, or yourself, in other ways throughout the year. Psychologists agree that it’s beneficial to do things out of the ordinary that express love for your partner, and at its heart that's what Valentine’s Day should be all about.
Our take is that it's super-commendable if you want to show your love for someone. Luckily there are a number of ways you can do that without having to buy into the consumer-hype.
As a testament to love, we've put together a list of 10 creative ways to help you celebrate a green Valentine’s Day:
1. Make a good old-fashioned playlist of songs to convey your love for that special someone
2. Cook a romantic (and why not vegan?) meal at home or make them a thoughtful breakfast in bed.
3. And the classic: Write them a poem! Here are a few pointers on how to get started.
4. If you're not the Geoffrey Chaucer of your generation, why not scale it down and leave little handmade love notes for them to find throughout the day?
5. Get your craft-cap on and make a homemade card that might even include your previously penned poem.
6. Plan an outing! In our book, the gesture of a planned walk or bike ride to a naturally beautiful spot is really thoughtful and considerate – you can't go wrong with this.
7. This one is for the musically talented people out there: why not use your skills to write your loved one a song? Unbeatable approach throughout the ages!
8. Arrange a basket or pot of locally grown flowers or maybe some edible delights.
9. Make them your own gift! Why not craft something from up-cycled wood or from other sustainable materials. Here are a few ideas.
10. If you're not very crafty, why not find a thoughtful gift at a second-hand store?
Don't forget to wrap any gifts you might get your loved ones in re-usable materials so stay sustainable!
To sum it up; Valentine’s Day may be a consumerism holiday but that doesn’t mean that you can’t celebrate it in a conscious way.
This year, why not make an extra effort and show your love for your special someone and the environment by going green for Valentine’s Day – show our planet some love as well!