The Earth needs love too! Six ways to a sustainable Valentine’s Day

Montreal Valentine's Day Cupcakes
Photo by Clever Cupcakes (via Flickr)

The day of hearts is upon us again and thousands of Filipinos (and their sweethearts) will be joining in the Valentine’s Day festivities. Chocolate, flowers, and cards will fly off the shelves in the frenzy of gift-giving, while tables at the trendiest restaurants will be booked way in advance. But in the haze caused by the heady romance in the air and the hustle and bustle of finding the perfect gift for your sweetie, we tend to forget to show some love for our mother too – Mother Earth. With only a little time and creativity, you can buy or create beautiful gifts that your significant other and the environment will thank you for.

1. Got something to say? Say it with a handmade card made of recycled materials.

Nothing says “I love you” and “I appreciate you” better than a card made with love, and the Earth will love you too if it’s made of recycled materials. If you’re not the crafty type, shops also sell cards made of recycled paper.

2. Sweeten the deal with locally made chocolate.

Give chocolate with a Filipino twist. Contrary to popular belief, we have homegrown high-end chocolate makers here in the Philippines. They specialize in making chocolates that are decidedly Filipino, such as milk chocolate with organic barako coffee, dark chocolate with chili, and dark chocolate with dried green mangoes and salt.

3. Flatter with organic flowers.

Did you know that 196 million roses were sold in the United States for Valentine’s Day 2011? It’s the #1 holiday for florists, catching 40% of holiday dollar volume. Unfortunately, most of those roses were imported from South America and grown on farms that use fertilizers and pesticides extensively. Filipinos have it easier as most Philippine florists already grow their flowers locally, usually in Baguio, Tagaytay, or Mindanao. To take it another step further, choose locally and organically grown flowers.

Photo by MissMessie (via Flickr)

4. Give stuffed animals with more heart.

Consider giving stuffed animals that do more than gather dust on the shelf. NGOs that focus on environmental issues often sell stuffed animals of their flagship species, with the proceeds going towards their conservation projects. Buy these plush toys instead of the usual ones from department stores.

5. Cooking is caring.

For a more personal and healthier touch, how about staying in and cooking an organic meal together? It’s more quality time together as a couple, you avoid the (worse than usual) traffic that’s sure to surface on this day, and it’s good for your body and the environment. Perhaps you might even have those locally made chocolates for dessert!

6. Spend a day outside. 

This can tie in with #5. Cook your organic food early, pack a basket, and picnic in a nature park or  protected area. Your park entrance fees go towards the protection and maintenance of the park and their environmental education initiatives. There are nature parks within Metro Manila so you have no excuses (yes, we still have green spaces!). For the ultimate romantic and Earth-loving getaway, consider a luxury green hotel within the El Nido-Taytay Managed Resource Protected Area. Activities like snorkeling, diving, windsurfing, kayaking, birdwatching, and hiking maximize your enjoyment of nature’s wonders while minimizing your environmental impact. Their partner airline also offers a carbon offset program, where a minimum donation buys six seedlings that will be planted and taken care of in your name in the Brgy. Villa Libertad watershed area.

Kayaking at the West Beach

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