The Environmental Advocate: Can Valentine’s Day be a ‘Green’ holiday?

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    By Laura Spehar

    It just doesn’t sound right to turn Valentine’s Day green unless your sweetheart is Kermit the Frog, right? How about we rephrase the idea and call it using creative, long-lasting, sustainable ways to show your sweetheart you care this year and for many more years to come?

    Before you stop off at Fred Meyer, Wal-Mart or any other of those big-box stores for your Valentine needs, please consider shopping locally here in Edmonds.

    Did you know that when you purchase items at locally owned businesses rather than nationally owned, more money is kept in the community? Purchasing local helps grow other businesses as well as the local tax base. This generally means contributing less to sprawl, congestion, habitat loss and pollution. Shopping locally clearly says that you are invested in the community’s welfare and future. Your very own purchasing choices are a way of “voting with your wallet.”

    Not able to shop this year, want to go the home-made route, or just desire to show your love for the planet too and reduce the resources that go into material gifts? If so, some ideas are to take a romantic hike, plan a picnic and create a montage of your photos of good times you have spent together. One good idea that works well with children is to make a book of coupons; each coupon is good for a new opportunity and allows you both to spend more time together. Some coupon examples are: one hour reading together at the library or a coupon for a trip to Revelations frozen yogurt together. Be creative!

    Baked goods are always popular with this holiday as well as candlelight dinners. No worries if you burn your beloved’s cupcakes; you can just head down to Nama’s Candy Store and pick up some fresh, delicious Frosted cupcakes made locally right here in Edmonds.

    Need a great bottle of wine for that romantic candlelight dinner you are planning? I am sure Arista’s staff in downtown Edmonds can help you with just what your taste buds fancy. While you are there, sign up your loved one for the monthly wine club, in which your gift will continue giving even after Valentine’s Day is over.

    If you are not convinced that your loved one will admire your eco-savvy thoughtfulness, then it may be time to break out the chocolate. When you purchase fair trade, organic and shade-grown chocolate, you contribute to helping end the use of pesticides on cocoa, deforestation, child labor and slavery.

    Does your sweetheart love the gift of words? Every year, consumers buy enough holiday cards to fill a football field 10 stories high. It that wasn’t enough to think about, 2.65 billion paper greetings mostly come from virgin trees. A good alternative to the purchase of a traditional paper card is to use electronic cards or make a card from recycled materials at home. There are even do-it-yourself plans online for creating your own biodegradable seed paper that later can be planted.

    Flowers, like chocolate, commonly involve high pesticide use. Your best bet for sustainable flower shopping is to shop at local farmers markets and stands. If that is not an option, ask your florist or market for the certified organic cut flowers they have in stock. Flowers that last longer and are very unique are the lighted ones that you will find at Garden Gear and C’est La Vie here in Edmonds.

    Have a great Valentine’s Day everyone, remember love doesn’t cost anything but it is best shared even if just with yourself!

    Laura Spehar is a Montessori teacher and environmental educator, and was named Edmonds’ Citizen of the Year in 2011. She is a WSU Master Gardener, Beach Watcher and Carbon Master, and holds certifications in wildlife habitat and native plant stewardships. Spehar serves on the Snohomish Conservation District’s Advisory Board, Pilchuck Audubon Society Board, Friends of the Edmonds Library Board, and the City of Edmonds Mayor’s Climate Action Committee Board and Tree Board. She was awarded the National Wildlife Federation’s National Conservation Service Award in 2010. Spehar lives in Edmonds with her husband Paul and their two dogs Goldie and Happy on two acres of well-loved and protected wetland/stream side habitat.

    1 COMMENT

    1. I love the coupon idea and remember that we used to do that in the early years of marriage when money was tight. I think I’ll revisit that now. Coupons aren’t just for kids events. I recently read that for every dollar spent at a local business, $.45 is reinvested locally. For every dollar spent at a corporate chain, only $.14 is reinvested locally. Thanks for the environmental insights.

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