Tips for celebrating Valentine’s Day sustainably


Keep Valentine’s Day low waste and sustainable with these tips.

Ashlynn Kile

Valentine’s Day, along with many other American holidays, can easily become very commercialized, expensive and bottom line wasteful. If being more environmentally and economically sustainable is something that interests you, here are some do’s and don’ts for Valentine’s Day gifts. 

Do: Shop small businesses for a gift.

Shopping from a local or small business might be a little more expensive, but the quality of the gift and uniqueness is something your significant other will appreciate. Sellers on Etsy have perfumes and cosmetic gifts similar to anything you would find at Bath and Body Works or Sephora. Patronizing a local spa for facials or pedicures is also an experience that can be appreciated as opposed to material gifts. Check out stores in Ames like Portobello Road, We the Dreamerz, or Everts Flowers and Gifts. 

Don’t: Buy anyone a huge stuffed teddy bear.

Realistically, it’s not something anyone will have a real use for, and likely will end up in a landfill someday. Stick to things your significant other can actually use. This also goes for most any stuffed animal, excessive flower arrangements or anything that won’t provide functional use for longer than a week. 

Do: Eat locally or cook at home. 

If you and your partner are foodies, opt for eating locally or cooking together at home. The heart-shaped Domino’s pizza is tempting and delivered fast, but patronizing a local business is a better way to keep the money you’re spending in your community and the food you consume will likely be more local as well. Chain restaurants can also be extremely wasteful and although cheap, very low quality. Cooking at home and dining by candlelight will likely make the evening more romantic anyway!

Don’t: Buy an expensive card.

Instead of going to your local Target or Walmart and buying an expensive, overpriced piece of paper, make your own card. Grab a piece of paper and write a heartfelt note to your significant other. It will mean a lot more than a premade one and your boyfriend or girlfriend will probably be more inclined to keep this if you wrote it. 

Do: Buy your significant other plants.

Instead of buying flowers for your significant other, gift them a plant, such as a succulent, that they can take care of and keep for a long time. About a week after Valentine’s Day, those flowers will be thrown away and never seen again, but a succulent will stay alive and could be used as a decoration and something they can take care of. If flowers are a must, try to find a local florist instead of a Flowerama. 

Don’t: Overdo it.

Instead of spending lots of money and buying tons of gifts, stick to the basics. Valentine’s Day is about spending time with your significant other and growing in your relationship, not about who spends the most money and gives the most presents.

This Valentine’s Day remember to think about the more meaningful things when it comes to celebrating, particularly your relationship with the people you love most. Send Mom a homemade card and find a small business to buy chocolate, plants or perfumes from instead of ordering from expensive florists or retailers.