This Valentine's Day, you can show the environment a little love, too.
Much of what we do for each other on Valentine's Day is not all that creative. We give cards, flowers, chocolates, and jewelry. And each of those things has environmental drawbacks.
• Cards. Remember in grade school when you made Valentines? Maybe it was just the thrill of young love, but part of the pleasure was that each card had a personal message. Try that again. Be creative. Reuse old cards or break out and reuse other things such as magazines or fabrics.
• Flowers. Ah, yes, nothing says, "I love you, but I didn't put much thought into it," more than 12 red roses. And that may be the least of the problems. According to the environmental Web site grist.org, flower farms are heavy users of pesticides, which have a very unlovely habit of making their way into water sources and birds. Some chemical residue may even remain on the flowers you have just handed to your loved one.
One sure way to avoid this is to not give flowers. But if you must, ask your florist if they have organic flowers. If not, organic flowers can be ordered online for delivery from www.organicbouquet.com. If you tend to plan ahead, harvest and dry some of your own roses this summer and give them next Valentine's Day.
• Chocolate. Yup, another cliché, but one that people tend to easily forgive. Like flower-farmers, the growers of cacao often use pesticides, not to mention child labor and poor working conditions, according to Grist. Take a bit more time, spend a bit more money and buy organic chocolate.
• Jewelry. If you really want to make an impression, maybe you are thinking about bling for the big day. But like flowers and chocolate, when it comes to jewelry, you should think about where that gold band or diamond ring came from. Mining for diamonds and precious metals can pose social and environmental problems.
Jewelry is ingrained in our culture, so it's not likely that we will stop giving it. But there are a lot of diamonds, gold and silver and diamonds that already have been harvested and are waiting to be reused. That is the goal of companies such as greenKaret, which on its Web site (greenkarat.com) says there is enough old and unused jewelry sitting around now to satisfy all our demands for the next 50 years.
"GreenKarat believes that consumers have the ability to demand the liberation of that idle gold through their purchasing decisions," the Web site says. "Demand for recycled gold, in conjunction with campaigns to clamp down on ecologically and socially unacceptable mining, holds the potential to effect change. Because this methodology helps societal custom work in concert with principles of commerce, it can be embraced by consumers and producers alike, and therefore result in sustainable change."
Do you have an idea or tip for our weekly Environment at Home column? Let us know. Send an e-mail to Local@IdahoStatesman.com with subject line "Enviro at Home."