14 Simple Ideas for a Zero-Waste Valentine's Day
Think back to Valentine’s Days of old. Back when you lovingly decorated a shoe box and brought it to school. When you came home with a few dozen sugary treats with your name on them. (And maybe a special note from a friend or two.)
We want to invite you to recapture that straightforward fun of childhood holidays. Aiming for a zero-waste Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean more stress. It can help you save money, slow down, and connect with your loved ones.
To get the inspiration flowing, we’ve put together 14 sweet and simple ideas for a zero-waste Valentine’s Day.
The Meaning of Valentine’s Day
Who do you think of when February 14th rolls around? Your zany best friend? Your partner? Your lovable dog?
Most of us traditionally associate Valentine’s Day with romantic love. And for many people, it is an opportunity to show extra appreciation for their romantic partners.
But this doesn’t have to be the end of it — you can also take the chance to show love to friends, family, and yourself. And by choosing eco-friendly gifts, you can share a little love with the planet, too!
Valentine’s Day Waste
If you’ve walked by the stuffed holiday displays at the store, you won’t be surprised by this: Valentine’s Day brings a huge spike in waste every year. Some major sources of waste are:
- Greeting Cards: Millions are exchanged each year, and many can’t be recycled.
- Flowers: At first glance, flowers seem like an eco-friendly gift. But sadly, many fresh flowers are grown with harmful pesticides and tended by underpaid workers. And shipping them around the world creates a large carbon footprint.1
- Novelty Gifts: From heart-shaped plates to giant, bright pink teddy bears, novelties often become just another nick-nack to dust and store.
- Packaging: Individually-wrapped sweets, gift wrap, plastic-covered flowers — this packaging is often hard to reuse, recycle, or compost.
But never fear! You can still spoil your loved ones on Valentine’s Day. And you can do it without a harmful impact on the planet.
We’ve collected Valentine’s Day ideas that are easy, fun, and sustainable. Most of them only take a little time and some basic supplies you probably have around the house.
General Tips for a Greener Valentine’s Day
We’re also sharing these four tips on our Instagram (along with some special deals). For more zero-waste inspiration, you can follow us & join in the conversation.
- Avoid novelty gifts. Opt for gifts that are functional, consumable, or sustainable.
- Choose responsible packaging. Get creative with packaging that can be reused or recycled. This can even be part of the gift.
- Try making things yourself. You can make homemade goodies, crafts, or prepare a special dinner yourself — and it can be a fun way to try new things.
- Use what you have. Using resources you already have helps you save money and makes your Valentine’s Day that much greener!
With these tips as our road-map, we’re ready to dive into specific ways you can plan a zero-waste Valentine’s Day you’ll always remember.
14 Ideas to Help You Celebrate a Zero-Waste Valentine’s Day
The internet is full of Valentine’s Day gift ideas. But we’ve curated these ideas just for you — each one is simple, affordable, and eco-friendly. If you have other zero-waste Valentine’s Day traditions, we’d love to hear about them!
Branch out beyond the standard Hallmark card and plastic box of chocolates. This shows your loved ones you were really thinking of them. And it helps you reduce your waste!
Zero-Waste Home Products
Or if your loved one enjoys the outdoors more than the indoors, give them something they can use in nature. Campers and hikers love our reef-safe sunscreen and insect repellent. (We even have a Zero-Waste Camping Kit.)
Store-bought cards are convenient. But they’re often made with plastic, glitter, or other things that make them unrecyclable.
Instead, make your own Valentines from the paper you already have. A homemade card has heart (no pun intended). And if you don’t consider yourself crafty, give it a try anyway! Even if the card is simple, the message will mean a lot.
If you do buy a card, look for options made from recycled materials.
Experience gifts are a wonderful way to connect and deepen relationships. And at the end, all you’re left with are the great memories.
You could take your loved one to a local show or take a walking tour of your city. Even if you’ve lived in your area for a while, you’ll be surprised at what you can find.
For a fun experience at home, set up an extra-comfy area and watch a movie. Or learn and make a new recipe together.
Books or Bookmarks
Stop by your local used book store to find something unique. You can write a note inside instead of giving a card (and you may find a note from the previous owner).
If your loved one is already a well-stocked bookworm, why not try a bookmark? You can use ribbon, paper, or even thin fabric. Try using a permanent marker to write a note or favorite quote on it.
Like we discussed earlier, cut flowers often come with a high carbon footprint. If you want to buy fresh flowers, shop local and look for organic, fair-trade options.
Or you can make a charming bunch of paper roses. All you need is paper, glue, and floral wire or sticks. Then, simply:
- Cut a circle from your paper
- Starting at the edge, cut a spiral almost to the center
- Roll your spiral to create the bud & petals
- Glue the spiral to the center
- Attach to floral wire, a pencil, toothpicks, or anything else you like
You can use your paper flowers to decorate a box, a cake, or give them as a gift in a mason jar!
Another swap for traditional bouquets is a living plant. Your loved one can enjoy the plant for much longer. And many plants clean the air inside — which is extra helpful in winter when we spend more time indoors.
Some low-maintenance plants include Aloe, Peace Lilies, and Pothos.2 Place them in a small pot tied with a ribbon for an extra touch.
You give the gift of future plants instead. Packets of seeds are affordable and great for the earth. And the timing is perfect for starting seeds to plant in the spring.
Some fun options are hardy flowers like Black-Eyed Susans — or herbs like peppermint, basil, or thyme.
Treats are almost inseparable from our image of Valentine’s Day. And you can still savor your favorite delicious flavors without any added waste.
Chocolate Strawberry Parfaits
These parfaits make a perfect breakfast or brunch. And they’re a breeze to whip up.
First, prep a batch of this delicious healthy chocolate granola. (Be sure to leave time for it to cool.)
Next, wash and slice 1 cup of strawberries. You can also use raspberries or any other fruit. Frozen fruit works too — just let it thaw first.
Last, layer granola, strawberries, and your favorite yogurt in glass cups. Top with whipped cream or toasted coconut. And enjoy!
Valentine’s Day Chocolate Bark
Individually-wrapped chocolates add a lot of plastic waste. This elegant bark is a healthier, more sustainable sweet. Zero-Waste Valentine’s Day has never tasted so amazing.
To make this tasty treat, you’ll need:
- 12 ounces of dark chocolate
- ¼ cup of sunflower seeds, chopped almonds, or other nuts
- ¼ cup unsweetened coconut flakes
- ¼ cup chopped dried fruit (like cranberries or cherries)
- Coarse sea salt
Line a sheet pan with parchment paper or a silicon mat. Then melt the chocolate in a double boiler or the microwave, stirring often.
Next, pour the chocolate into the prepared sheet pan and use a spatula to spread it into a thin layer. Let it set for a few minutes.
Sprinkle your toppings over the chocolate and add a pinch of sea salt to taste. Last, let the bark chill in the fridge until it’s completely set. Then you can break it into pieces and share it (after you sample it yourself, of course).
Sustainable Self Care
Time to relax can be one of the most precious gifts! Help your loved one (or yourself) let go of stress this Valentine’s Day with some zero-waste self-care.
DIY Sugar Scrub
To make an easy sugar scrub, place ½ cup of coconut oil and 1 cup of cane sugar in a stand mixer. Then whip it on medium speed for about 10 minutes, or until it’s blended and fluffy.
You can add essential oils like lavender, peppermint, or eucalyptus to create a soothing scent.
Then add to mini mason jars, add a ribbon or tag, and you’re done!
Relaxing Foot Soak
Soaking away stress is a time-honored tradition. To make a simple foot soak, pour 2 cups of Epsom salt into a medium-sized bowl.
Next, add 10-15 drops of essential oil. Lavender, eucalyptus, or rosemary. Mix until well combined.
You can add a tablespoon of dried lavender flowers if you have them. (Or even a tablespoon of your favorite chamomile tea!)
Divide your salts into four 4 oz mason jars and decorate them to your heart’s content.
Natural Soaps & Shampoo Bars
Using a new, richly-scented bar of soap can be so refreshing. Our soaps and shampoos are full of natural, nourishing ingredients to care for your loved one’s skin.
Our soap bars come either package-free or wrapped in recyclable paper. (We also offer optional oatmeal for extra exfoliation!)
And our shampoo & conditioner bars come in a range of scents for every hair type. For stress relief, go for the soothing lavender-scented Frenchie Falls. If you’re searching for gifts for him, try our woodsy Wallowa Wilds.
Last but not least, you can give the all-important lip balm. Realizing you forgot your lip balm can be almost as bad as forgetting your phone.
Green is the New Pink
Choosing eco-friendly gifts for Valentine’s Day is a simple thing. But it can have a huge positive impact on the planet. Every step we take together helps us create a zero-waste world.
We hope this list of ideas has gotten you inspired to celebrate a zero-waste Valentine’s Day. If you try these out, tag us on Instagram @sfsustainable so we can admire your creations.
And if you need more zero-waste gift ideas, feel free to browse our shop. You can rest assured that everything there is great for you, your loved ones, and the planet.
From our team at Silver Falls Sustainability Co, Happy Valentine’s Day!