Zero Waste Valentine’s Day

zero waste valentine

Having a zero waste Valentine’s Day can be a little tricky. After all, pop culture would have you convinced you need a stuffed animal and a box of chocolates to participate. But you know what? I say that’s bogus. You can totally enjoy Valentine’s Day without the conventional stuff that winds up becoming junk. This holiday celebrates love, right? So all you have to do is spread love to those you care about! I’ve listed a bunch of fun, ethical, zero waste ways to celebrate the holiday. I cover everything from baking treats to lingerie to intimate time. It’s all there. Even if you don’t have a special sweetheart, you can still bake something for your friends (or yourself) and enjoy the day. Use it as an excuse to show those around you how much you care. Without further ado, here’s how to have a zero waste Valentine’s Day.


Zero Waste Valentine’s Day

To help you craft the perfect zero waste Valentine’s Day, I’ve covered a range of topics in this post: Consumable gifts, dining, candies and chocolates, cards, flowers, lingerie and intimate time.

zero waste valentine

Consumable gifts

Instead of giving a teddy bear that’ll just wind up gathering dust, why not give a consumable gift?

Homemade goodies are so much better than those plastic packaged treats you find in store. Plus, you have complete control over the ingredients in them. No nasty additives or plastic allowed!

Personally, I love making my boyfriend vegan chocolate orange truffles every year. It’s kind of a tradition we have now. He looks forward to it because it’s the one time of year I make them. Oh, and they’re so good –  the recipe for them is in my new e-book, How to Reduce Food Waste! Totally recommend you give them a try – they’re on the last page, if you’re curious. Plus, there are other yummy, food waste reducing recipes in there as well!

I make sure to buy all the ingredients for the vegan truffles in bulk too. That makes them completely zero waste. You can do the same, depending on what you decide to make.

Here are a few treats totally worth wiping up for your significant other:

You can always also purchase some wine or champagne for your love, if you know they prefer alcohol over sweets.

If you’re still determined to get your significant other a non-consumable gift, consider getting them experience gifts, like tickets to their favorite show, game or movie. Or, perhaps look into some sustainable jewelry options.

Dine waste free

Personally, I love going to a nice restaurant for Valentine’s Day. I think it’s really fun. That said, I always request we go somewhere that utilizes reusables. Thankfully, we typically find very  low waste places to eat without much hassle.

Last year, we went to a Japanese restaurant that served everything on  real plates, with real cups, utensils and cloth napkins. It was so nice.

This year, I think we’ll be going to an Italian restaurant and, since it’s a classy joint, I don’t think we’ll have to worry about any disposables while there. That said, I always hold on to any spare paper napkins that come my way (so I can compost them at home). And, I always go to places with my trusty zero waste to go kit.

I suggest you do the same – go out of your way to find a place to eat that utilizes reusables. Most of the classier, fancier restaurants will do this automatically.

You can check and see a lot just by looking on the restaurant’s social media page. Or, check out reviews of the place online. Be sure to look at the pictures of dishes to see what they’re served on. This has saved me so many times in the past.

Another great way to celebrate a zero waste Valentine’s Day? Dine in. Cook a meal for your significant other all by yourself! There are so many yummy meals you can prepare, all very low waste.

Just ask what your significant other would want, or if you already know their favorite dish, go out of your way to buy the ingredients for it.  Visit your local farmers market and bulk  food store to stock up on whatever you’ll need to make it.

Don’t forget the decor: A candlelit dinner is super romantic, after all. Maybe with some nice, plastic free flowers as a centerpiece?

Here are some delicious zero waste Valentine’s Day dinners worth cooking:

Bulk candies + chocolates

If you still really like the prospect of getting your love chocolates and candies, but don’t want to make them yourself, there is another option. You can find them at the bulk food store.

Most grocery stores, even if they don’t have a bulk section, sell candy in bulk (strangely enough). You might even be able to find nuts, chocolate and dried fruit there too.

A cute idea would be to put the bulk candy or chocolate you get into a tiny mason jar, or cloth muslin pouch. If using a jar, you could make a cute little tag with the person’s name on it out of craft paper and tie it to the jar.

Make your own card

It totally beats buying a card at the store. Making your own isn’t just cheaper, it’s also way more heart warming. You can design it however you see fit. Personally, I love to draw so I always draw and color on my cards to make them super original. Inside, I write a cute little love note.

You can also get really creative and even make your own paper to write a love note on. There are so many tutorials online, and it’s not super complicated. Plus, it’s totally zero waste: You’re just turning scrap paper into new paper, giving it new life!

It would be fun to take this a step further and make your own seed paper too. Then you can tell your significant other to plant the note after they read it. So cute.

If you do wind up buying a card, make sure it’s one made on recycled paper, and free of any glitter and shiny surfaces. You can tell your loved one to compost it or recycle it when they’re ready.

Plastic free flowers and plants

Thinking about getting someone flowers? Go to your local florist and ask them to wrap your flowers in newspaper, butcher paper or brown packaging paper. Whatever they have on hand, honestly. You might be surprised at how willing they are to cooperate!

As an added bonus, you can also ask your local florist if they have any pesticide free, locally grown flowers. Or, perhaps pop by your local farmers market and see if there are any plastic free blooms there. Mine sells some loose flowers, but more towards spring typically.

Trader Joes and local delis might have some plastic free flowers available too. I’ve seen some wrapped in paper before. You just have to look.

Another option  is getting someone a plant in a pot. That way, the plant will last a lot longer. Succulents, pothos, snake plants and cacti are great for people who have black thumbs because  they don’t require as much water or attention. That said, you can totally find miniature rose plants to give your sweetheart too.

Ethical lingerie

If you’re in the market for new lingerie this zero waste Valentine’s Day, I advise you to think consciously. Most undergarments are made using some kind of plastic. Even if they are 100 percent cotton, that’s not exactly the best either. Sure, cotton is compostable, but conventionally grown cotton uses a lot of pesticides which harm the environment.

I recommend looking into ethical lingerie brands that utilize recycled fabrics, fair trade practices and/or compostable fabrics.

One of my favorite undergarment companies is Pansy. They make 100 percent compostable bras from organic cotton in various colors, shapes and sizes. They’re all handmade in California and naturally dyed too. They’re definitely more for every day wear, but they’re still super cute.

If you’re looking for something with a little more Va-Va-VOOM, I recommend trying out Reformation’s intimates section. They have some amazing ethical lingerie to choose from that will make your sweetheart very happy.

Plus, Azura Bay ships everything out using 100 percent recycled boxes, poly mailers, white tissue paper and biodegradable shipping tape. Yay for green packaging!

Safe sexy time

So…quick note on any sexy time you have on Valentines Day (or any day for that matter)…please use a condom. I know condoms create waste physically, but using one is better than not for several reasons.

Condoms protect you from unwanted pregnancy and STDs. Yes, you have to throw them out,  but it’s a non-negotiable waste product, in my eyes. Your health and well being should always come first. Not to mention bringing a child into this world creates waste in and of itself (the diapers alone…). I’ve got nothing against kids (I totally want to be a mom someday) – but unplanned pregnancies result in a lot more waste than a single condom ever could.

Thankfully, there are ethical options out there. Sustain Natural is a brand that provides condoms made from fair trade rubber and free of nasty additives. Not sure if you know this, but traditional condoms, being made with latex, contain nitrosamines, which is a carcinogenic (aka, cancer-causing). Yikes.

Sustain Natural is currently the only brand that removes this harmful chemical from their products. While their packaging isn’t completely waste free, it’s still the best option out there at the moment.

Obviously, any protection is better than none, but it’s still good to know all your options.

zero waste valentine

How are you having a zero waste Valentine’s Day? Feel free to share your own personal tips and tricks below. Recipes appreciated too! 

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By Ariana Storniolo (Palmieri)

Ariana Storniolo is the founder of Greenify-Me, a blog dedicated to zero waste and sustainability. Her work has also been featured on Going Zero Waste, Green Matters, Mother Earth Living and several other online publications.


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