No matter your relationship to Valentine’s Day, I think it’s fair to say that most of us could use a little more love in the air.
Unfortunately, the air is currently filled with a lot more carbon dioxide than that elusive lovey dovey feeling, thanks to the complicated and ongoing impacts of climate change. And holidays like Valentine’s Day aren’t helping.
In fact, Plastic Oceans, a nonprofit working to end plastic pollution, reports that February 14, by itself, represents an increase of 9 million kilograms of carbon dioxide on top of everything “normally” released into the atmosphere.
Think of all the helium heart balloons, cheaply-assembled plush toys, candy wrappers, plastic gift wrap, and glitter sitting in landfills for hundreds of years on end.
Way to crush our candy hearts, right? Gee thanks, Good Good Good.
But here’s the deal: There are plenty of ways to celebrate Valentine’s Day (by yourself, with friends, or significant others) without having such a steep impact on the planet.
We’re big fans of cute, meaningful displays of affection as much as the next optimist, so there’s no way we’d leave you hanging with climate doom on the day of love.
We’re here with a list of ideas to help you celebrate Valentine’s Day with the planet (and your favorite people) in mind. Read on for some sustainable solutions to date night, gifts, and romance.
By the way, some of the links in this article are affiliate links, which means if you make a purchase after clicking a link, we may earn a commission at no extra cost to you. Thank you!
Valentine’s Day ideas with sustainability (and love) in mind
Ditch the meat at dinner
We already know that reducing our meat consumption is a great way to benefit the environment. While we certainly aren’t forcing you to make any major dietary changes, some ways to cut meat-eating include choosing one day a week to implement a plant-based diet, or even getting creative on major holidays.
Maybe this year, you can swap the steak dinner for a delicious vegan or veggie meal, like a tasty pasta dish or cauliflower wings.
Stargazing is just about as romantic as it gets, but it’s also a great reminder to appreciate the natural world (and consider the impact of light pollution). Grab a blanket, a mug of cocoa, and sit among the stars with your lover, friends — or dog.
If you’re feeling extra special, you can even name a star after someone as a gift and spend the evening basking in the Valentine’s glow.
Visit a national or state park
If you’re looking for more of a day date, we’d suggest spending time in nature at a national or state park! Most of these visits will require a small fee or permit, but it’s a small price to pay to keep our public lands clean, safe, and accessible.
(Besides, you can check out our guide to free national park days or free or discounted National Park passes.)
Lace up those boots and enjoy the great outdoors with the ones you love most.
Spread the love even further by doing some good together with your loved ones. Whether you want to volunteer at an animal shelter or host a park clean-up, there are plenty of ways to get involved in your community.
If you want to stay cuddled up at home, another great way to do good is by writing letters to incarcerated folks, volunteering with a suicide prevention hotline to remind folks they aren’t alone, or even bringing special treats and surprises (or a care kit) to community members experiencing homelessness.
Plant something new in your garden
While supermarket flowers are traditionally all the rage for Valentine’s Day, save some money (and help your native pollinators) by grabbing a package of seeds instead.
Start a new tradition with your spouse or family by planting something new in your garden every year on Valentine’s Day and watch your love grow. (You might even end up with some seasonal produce.)
While Karaoke can certainly be a fun activity at a local bar or venue, you can also sing your heart out in the comfort of your own home. No fancy machines required; just search an instrumental tune on YouTube and let it all out.
Have a picnic
Use that bag of lettuce in the fridge before it’s too late! Make some chocolate covered strawberries with that bag of semi-sweet chocolate chips in the cupboard! Get creative with the ingredients you have at home, and plan a picnic with your honey.
Although a standard picnic is weather-dependent, you can also create a cute indoor setup. Last year, me and my partner had a car picnic and packed up our goodies in the back of his Subaru for a chilly weather alternative.
Just don’t forget your reusable utensils and plates!
DIY a craft with supplies you already have
ILY? More like DIY. Dig up the paints, construction paper, or any other craft supplies you have on hand, and make each other a masterpiece. You can make thoughtful handmade greeting cards, portraits of one another, or even find a doodling prompt online.
Not an artist by trade? Not a problem! It’s honestly even more fun when you can laugh about your creations together.
Have an at-home spa night
Some of the most enjoyable splendors of this season of love are the quiet and soothing moments you get to partake in. Whether it’s an excuse for a little self care (treat yo-self, am I right?), a pampering evening with your pals, or the perfect time to give your partner a massage, an at-home spa night is a great way to save some money and use the soothing items you already have at home.
Break out the conversation cards
If words of affirmation are your love language, this one’s for you. Jump on the opportunity to talk about your feelings with a deck of conversation cards.
Conversation cards are a great way to deepen your relationships, talk about subjects you wouldn’t normally think to bring up, and get to know someone that much better.
While we have a great guide to the best conversation card decks, another great option is the Fair Play deck, designed to facilitate conversations about prioritizing equitable relationships (married and cohabiting couples, you’ll like this one!).
Plan a staycation
Some of us (I will not be naming names) are already doing a great job this Valentine’s Day by not hopping on our private jets to visit our boyfriends. Private jet or not, the average takeoff and landing results in a huge amount of environmental harm. However, even in our own little worlds, we can plan a sustainable staycation.
Make a fancy little itinerary (books and snacks abound), put on your most luxurious leisurewear, turn off your notifications, and enjoy the company of someone you love all weekend long.
Fix something up around the house
While I personally find household tasks to be the opposite of romantic, some folks are made to create together! Try painting your office a new color, taking on a fun thrift-to-glow-up project, or even just organizing the pantry together.
Collaboration is cute, and that’s all there is to it.
Go camping (responsibly)
Want to enjoy the outdoors beyond a quick afternoon hike? Pull together a small camping trip for Valentine’s Day. Just be sure to enjoy the outdoors responsibly and leave your campsite better than you found it.
Give sustainable gifts
If you’re planning on giving any gifts for Valentine’s Day, we encourage you to shop sustainably. Lucky for you, we’re the experts on gifts that do good. Check out some of our eco-friendly gift and product round-ups to help you shop for those special people in your life.
- Best Sustainable Valentine’s Day Gifts
- Best Gifts for Environmentalists
- Best Sustainable Gifts for Him
- The Ultimate Guide to Gifts That Give Back
Give experiential gifts
The best gifts aren’t the ones that can be unwrapped; they’re the ones you can experience together. This year, give an experience that someone will cherish forever. Maybe it’s a mixology class, a cooking class, or even a guided painting experience.
No matter what you choose, a memory is an invaluable gift for anyone special in your life.
Give consumable gifts
While wine and chocolate are typically on the Valentine’s menu, there are so many consumable gifts out there, if you’d like to expand your horizons this Valentine’s Day. From soup mixes and coffee beans to makeup or audiobooks, check out our ultimate list of consumable gifts.
Skip the flowers
As convenient as they are, supermarket flower bouquets aren’t the most sustainable choice, if you’re looking for a lasting symbol of your affection. Consider grabbing a unique houseplant or a packet of native wildflower seeds this year instead.
If your boo really loves flowers, another great option is to stick with bouquets of locally grown flowers that support local farmers and growers near you!
Rethink the card
If you’re going to spend $6 for a nice greeting card, you might as well invest in some eco-friendly stationery for your love letter writing.
When it comes to sweet nothings, it really is the thought that counts. Even a love letter on looseleaf paper can mean the world to someone (you can spruce it up with markers and stickers too!). You can also include DIY valentine cards in your craft night date and swap love notes at the end of the night.
Stick to ethical and sustainable jewelry
Jewelry can be a really thoughtful gift on Valentine’s Day. But do you know what’s even more thoughtful? Buying that jewelry from small, ethical, and sustainable brands.
Picture it now: Your loved one opens up a little box to reveal a beautiful necklace or pair of earrings, and you get to excitedly say “this piece was made by a certified B-corp that empowers artisans in South America!” What a meaningful moment!
Some awesome brands to find sustainable and ethical jewelry include: wearwell, Made Trade, Mejuri, Brilliant Earth, and Catbird.
Double-check that your sweet treats are ethical and sustainable
Just like coffee beans, chocolate and cocoa farming can be done unethically and unsustainably (I will name names, Nestle). If you’re gifting chocolates this year, be sure to find some that are made with people and the planet in mind.
Many of these ethical and sustainable chocolate brands will be Fairtrade certified, though getting certifications can be an expensive investment and some brands will transparently outline their practices on their websites.
To get you started, check out brands like Tony’s Chocolonely, Endangered Species Chocolate, Alter Eco Chocolate, or THEO.
Light an eco-friendly candle
If you’re ready to set the mood on Valentine’s Day, there’s no better way than with an eco-friendly candle that invites peace, calm, and intimacy into your space. Don’t forget your electric lighter, too!
Shop your sexy stuff sustainably
If you want to surprise your partner with something sexy on Valentine’s Day, be sure to shop sustainably! Find size-inclusive and eco-friendly lingerie from Cosabella, lubricants and love oils from Good Clean Fun, and even intimate toys and devices from Maude, to get you started.
Get creative with what you already have
When we say “get creative,” you can let your imagination lead you down whatever road you’d like to travel, but mostly we want to convey this: You can have an enjoyable and special romantic experience with your partner without buying anything new.
Make a special playlist, put some fresh sheets on the bed, or switch on some mood lighting in your home. They will love you in the underwear you already own (or without any at all); we promise.