Be my Eco-Valentine!
Monday, Feb. 9, 2009 | 05:47 PM AT
Valentine's Day is just around the corner and if you're looking for creative ways to celebrate, look no further! I have a whole bunch of ideas that are big on romance but teeny on the eco-footprint. Plus, you have the chance to win the Wishbuds seeded paper kit in the photo above. Keep reading!
But what's wrong with the way we celebrate Valentine's day?
Well, ever notice how no one has cheesy plush red heart-shaped cushions on their couch come March? Umm hmm. Ditto cards. Does anyone really save a card that says, "You're my Valentine" with a signature? (Long, thoughtful cards and poetry are different. Those you should never throw away). Flowers are often drenched with pesticides and shipped in all the way from across the world. And diamonds... well, ever watched Blood Diamond?
And, dare I mention it, what happens to all this cheesy stuff if the relationship doesn't work out?
So here are some ground rules for making green Valentine's Day decisions:
1. Choose things that the person will actually use.
2. Choose things that are built to last (not cheap made-in-China stuff).
3. Whatever you buy, try and find a version that's local, sustainable and eco-friendly.
4. Usually, investing in services (massage, a dining experience) is automatically more eco-friendly than a physical object.
5. Okay, repeat after me: expensive doesn't mean better! In fact, some of my favourite and most memorable Valentine's Day suggestions cost next to nothing.
(and no, you don't have to dust off your plush heart from your previous relationship and regift it)
... although that WOULD be green...
Psst, you can watch the video here:
Right, so first let's start with a really fun do-it-yourself type trick. A fair-trade organic chocolate body paint. This way you can avoid the overly-packaged, chemical-laden, high-fructose corn syrup infested commercial version of this fun product. And you can be naughty AND nice all at once!
Homemade Chocolate Body Paint
2 bars fair trade organic dark/ bittersweet chocolate, well chopped
1/2 cup of organic heavy cream
1 or 2 tbsp porto or sherry
Set aside the chopped chocolate. Pour the cream into a medium, thick-bottomed saucepan (or double boiler if you have one) over low heat. Bring the cream to a simmer and add the chocolate and booze. Stir until the chocolate is melted.
You can play with the flavour of your body paint by infusing the cream with liquer, fresh mint, or spices like cayenne and chilli. Just make sure to strain out any particles before adding the chocolate.
Oh, and don't forget a brush!
Vegetarians and vegans, I found an online fondue recipe that should work well as body paint. Enjoy, my animal loving (and lactose-intolerant) friends!
By the way, Binky Holleran makes an incredible fair-trade, organic AND VEGAN chocolate body paint. It's got porto and organic sugar and rose water in it! Mmmm. If you want her version (or don't want to bother with your own), check out Fuchsia. It's on the corner of Duluth and Coloniale streets on the Plateau.
Of course, once you get all dirty and chocolate-y, you'll probably want a bath or shower. This is an excellent prezzie opportunity for couples. Buy soaps and bath products like Vanilla Rose Sugar Slather or Coconut Honey Dreaminess from Montreal-based Honeyflower. Honeyflower is situated right across the street from Fuchsia too (54 Duluth East), so you can get your dirty and your clean all one one block!
Other delicious gift items: sustainably harvested sea sponges; handknit bath cloths; fair trade felted soaps from Ten Thousand Villages or artisan-crafted on Etsy; massage bars from Dans Ta Bulle or Lush
Fair Trade Flowers
Here's a list of places that sell organic and fair trade flowers in this province. Please, support one of them instead of going with the cheapest (and possibly toxic) roses you can find.
Of course, Valentine's Day doesn't have to be between lovers. More than half of all Canadians expect to do something special on Feb 14 with family members or friends.
So here are some family-friendly ideas (that can also be leveraged for lovers)
A home-made coupon booklet
You can draw (or print) customized coupons for your loved one. They could include anything from a bedtime story (good for kids), a favourite meal (just about anyone), a foot rub, an evening of babysitting, a week of litter-box cleanup (hint hint if you're reading this--you know who you are!)... see what I mean?
It's such a wonderful (and free!) way of saying not only that you care, but that you care enough to be creative and give your sweetie EXACTLY what they want and not some generic thingy.
This is an idea I borrowed from the tradition of fortune cookies. I use chocolate. The greenest version would be to use squares of organic and fair-trade chocolate, of course. Take some paper and cut it into little slips that are about the size of your palm (or a bit smaller). Make 10. Now write 10 things that you love about your recepient, one on each slip of paper. Fold the "love fortune" and use a piece of foil or newspaper to cover the chocolate with the slip of paper hidden inside. Voila! You have a wicked surprise.
Variations: You can combine the idea of coupons with the love fortunes and dole out favours and chocolate.
Alternatively, you can "predict" something naughty or wonderful that's about to befall your recepient.
And you can start tomorrow! Slip a thoughtful piece of sweetness into your loved one's lunch each day this week leading up to Valentine's Day.
Make a special events calendar!
Okay, this is a time-consuming project. But it would be SO worth it! Use photos and memories that are special to you and your recepient to create a one-of-a-kind calendar. You can use the dates portion of a commercial calendar and have it bound with pages that you personalize with photos and poems.
And finally, those ubiquitous cards (and yes, this is your chance to win the seeded paper card kit from WishBuds)
You know what, I've said it all before here.
So that's it. If you want to win the seeded card kit, simply send me your favourite green valentine's day idea and it could be yours!
Leave me a comment or call our Talkback Line: (514) 597-5626
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