How to be a Green Valentine

Mary K. Priddy HeadshotThis Valentine's Day, we sat down with the Office of Sustainability's Education and Outreach Coordinator, Mary K. Priddy, to learn more about how to infuse a little love for Mother Earth into your celebrations. Read on for Mary's tips...


Like many people, I have always had a love-hate relationship with Valentine's Day. On the "Love" side, it's a good excuse to go on a sugar-high-fueled warm-and-fuzzy-heart-shaped spree of sharing the love. My significant other threatens to enter my name each year in a "who can eat the most chocolate strawberries" contest.

On the "Hate" side, Valentine's Day can feel like a shopping-driven holiday that encourages us to spend money on fine jewelry and commercialize our relationships. Not to mention it creates a lot of trash from wasteful packaging and cards that may not even make it to the recycling bin.

So, to balance the scales in favor of love and Mother Earth, I'm offering this list of ways to share the love with everyone you adore without hating on the environment.

Strawberry with the number 1

Make Your Own Valentine's Treats

Consider making your own heart-shaped sugar cookies or cupcakes with strawberry filling.

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Buy Local Flowers

If your special someone must have flowers, look for organically grown options from your local plant nursery or farmer's market.

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Consider a Potted Plant

Even better than cut flowers, why not give a plant that will last longer than a week? There are plenty of pretty houseplants that have pink or red foliage.

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Select Ethical Jewelry

If jewelry is the only way to delight your beloved, consider browsing your local vintage shop. Better for the planet, and you're supporting local stores and shops.

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Give a Digital Subscription

There are many digital services, from podcast networks to audiobooks, workout classes, to movie services. A major plus of this type of gift is that it can be completely zero waste, delivered via email or text.

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Buy Fair Trade or Rainforest-Friendly Chocolate

Whether you're single or not, this day will involve chocolate for many people, but cocoa farming is associated with serious ethical and environmental problems. That's why it's important to stick with fair-trade chocolates.

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Send Some Love to Your Favorite Nonprofit

A donation to a nonprofit near and dear to your heart can be personally meaningful, or you can contribute on someone else's behalf to show them that you care about the causes they do.

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Do Something Extra Nice

Maybe it's making dinner for your mom or taking out the compost for your roommate. Maybe it's just calling that friend you haven't heard from in a long time. I'm sure you can think of something nice to do for the people you care about, and isn't that what this day should really be all about?


Hopefully, these ideas will help you have a green Valentine's Day and enjoy the holiday while still being kind to the environment.


💚 —

Mary K. Priddy