Eco-Friendly and Zero Waste Valentine's Day Gifts They Won't Forget

by - Tuesday, February 06, 2018

young couple sitting in a photobooth

So Valentine's Day is coming up, and for a lot of us, we are figuring out some love tokens and such. I know there are lots of people who find the holiday to be stupid, and I even buy into their points. But, I also think the world could use a lot of love, so I think celebrating the love in your life is a big, important deal!

You may say "But Barbara, I can do this without shopping" and I 100% agree with you! The world would be better with more celebrating and less shopping!

That said, gifting is my love language, and if it is yours too, you should still gift! Make some cards! Write them a sweet note! Just hang some white lights (romance, like life, is 90% lighting)! So many ways to show you care and some of the best won't be found online shopping or in a store! But if you are the type to buy a Valentine's Day Gift, you have so many options other than the holiday aisle at your pharmacy (see if you can find one thing in that aisle made in America or out of eco-friendly materials. Just one. Often the quickest, so-called easiest option comes at the highest cost).

Instead, think outside that heart-shaped box. 

If you are going to buy a gift for your significant other, nothing boring, obligatory, or thoughtless. The world is already filled with well-meaning but obligatory stuff that no one really needs, and it is starting to cause environmental problems. Plastic and other waste are filling our waters. Fossil fuels are burned just to move those pointless boxes of candy around. We can do better.

Make your Valentine's Day gift better for the environment. Just as important, make it amazing, make it useful, make it meaningful. A good way to judge is if it is a gift any person could give to anyone, you haven't had your lightning bolt moment yet. So this is my inspiration for you, I will throw out a couple of traditional ideas (chocolate, jewelry, etc) and a few ideas I think are just cool.

riding the wall drug jackalope

1. A New Memory Together

My best advice for this holiday especially is to think about experiences instead of objects. Most of what we traditionally buy for this holiday- flowers and candy- is ephemeral, but they come wrapped in plastic waste that will outlast us all.

Why not make a memory that will last your whole life that creates no waste?

You can read this post for some of my best ideas- tickets, classes, camping at a national park, or a seedy afternoon in a hotel (no really). But you know your loved one- what is something they like to do? What would be a treat? How could you surprise them with time together instead of more stuff? 

2. Name a Roach

No joke, the Bronx Zoo is selling the naming rights to one of their roaches as a Valentine's Day gift. Perfect gift if your significant other is awesome. This whole thing is hilarious, genius, and has to lead itself into some sort of "our love can survive the apocalypse" theme, right? Romantic.

If you love an animal lover, the World Wildlife Fund has a collection of small gifts that would go well with a donation. I love donations as a gift. It is so powerful to show your loved one that you care about what they care about. Not like a fleeting, slightly distracted interest. But an interest you invest in. That is romantic.
watercolor personalized portrait
from SophiasIllustration

3. Personalized Art

 This may be too much for some people, but I think it could make for an especially memorable gift ONCE. Once, friend. Do not take this path more than once. The line between fun and creepy is really clear here.

Etsy offers tons of cool option, so you can find something that fits your style from mountain climbing to embroidery. SophiasIllustration makes my favorite portraits, just because they seem less cutesy, more true to the subject, while still being really joyful. These portraits are sweet and whimsical, fighting gravity and floating away. I love these ones from ElettraArts- they are from Italy, but they are digital files, so you don't have to worry about shipping. 

Maybe best of all? Personalized return address stamps with your face on them from lilimandrill. Am I the only one dorky enough to think this is awesome??

Want something you can personalize as you go? I bought The Boy one of these scratch off maps for our first anniversary. Not only does he love it (and scratching off new places), but it is almost always the first piece people ask about when they come in our house. And it is printed on 100% recycled paper! Who knew? Make it into a "taking adventures together" kind of gift, maybe?

modern minimalist planter
from EastPine

4. Planters

Flowers are pretty and a lovely gesture. They also die pretty fast. Why not buy a living plant instead? It will make life better (plants in the house encourage optimism, decrease depression, etc) and still inject some fresh liveliness into your house or yard. This can work for any home, you don't have to be outside.

Want to take it to another level? Gift it in a planter. I have seen a lot of pretty planters out there this year, and it might be a nice substitute to flowers. Most areas in the US aren't really flower-filled in February, so I would save the flower-buying for when you can get something local, and try buying a planter instead. My favorite ones are these minimalist but warm planters from East Pine. Also great for the occasion is this "LOVE" succulent planter from Succulent Wonderland- how pretty is that? And I bet it would look pretty cool on a patio table or in a backyard. They even hang, from what I can read. Have a nerd you love in your life? Pokemon planters exist.

52 date ideas eco-friendly valentine's day gifts
from Fly Trap on E

5. A Year of Romance

 I love The Boy, and he is a wonderful man, but if you ask him to come up with a date, he makes a face like you have just threatened to kill his whole family if he can't name the schools of Baroque painting. Just pure fear. Once, when he tried to come up with something on the fly, we panic drove up and down the same street (Aurora, no less) for an hour, and then ended up eating Ihop. Not the worst date in theory, but he still had that agonized face days later.

 To avoid future trauma, I bought him these Date Night cards from Fly Trap on E. They made us laugh and I think we will actually use the ideas, so it might be a great gift (and life vest) if you are also partnered with someone who would rather rip out his or her own teeth than plan something. If you are an excellent planner (or just LOVE looking at pinterest lists), buy a pack of cards at a thrift shop and write your own ideas on it. Or write meals. Or sexy stuff. Whatever you think your partner would be into. It's cheap (or free), thoughtful, and might make the whole year all around better!

Want to be foodies together? TwoTmbleweeds sells these super cute foodie dice that could support a year of cooking and dinners at home. Maybe get them with a CSA box subscription for the summer?

reclaimed wood charging station
from Hippie House Co

6. Phone Holder/ Charging Station

 We all use our phones for everything now, and I know The Boy likes to find recipes on the internet and then reads off the phone while he cooks. I love the ones from Hippie House Co, Most of the designs are understated and simple AND they are made of reclaimed wood! Double waste-avoiding win! Etsy has tons of great ones- check out STAKCERAMICS, WittyNovelty, and ReclamationConsign.

Want to go a different direction? This solar-powered charger and light seems like a cool option for a techie. If he uses actual cookbooks, this might be his jam.

7. Throw Blanket and a Movie Night

 I love these throw blankets from American companies like Faribault Woolen Mills and Eighth Generation but I can never think of a good opportunity to get someone one. I feel like people always have a lot of blankets. But Valentine's Day might be a perfect time to introduce a beautiful new blanket into your house with an indoor picnic or a movie night. Romantic, thoughtful, and cozy? Faribault even offers recycled blankets! Win.

holding hands

8. Photography Prints

If nothing is really popping in your mind as a perfect gift, why not get a nice picture from the last year printed? It doesn't have to be too fussy or huge (it doesn't even have to be a picture of you), but a simple print that is meaningful to both of you with a really thoughtful note makes a gift they will treasure.

I get my prints for the wall from Artifact Uprising. They look and feel like treasures, without being over the top. I also love that they are made from recycled paper!

Eco-Friendly and Zero Waste Valentine's Day Gifts They Won't Forget

eco-friendly gift ideas for valentine's day

Happy Valentine's Day! I hope you have one worth remembering!

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  1. I always have to remind my husband that he can totally do gifts without spending money, but it takes creativity and effort.

  2. I love the idea of experiences over a gift. They mean so much more and the memories will last so much longer.

  3. I love the making memories one. I try to focus on memories more than gifts these days because “you can’t take it with you” but memories are forever.

  4. I love these. You are so right about the world needing love, especially now. I prefer an experience or memory over a gift and have taught this to my daughter. Thank you for sharing this.

  5. These are fun and definitely unique ideas! That would be funny to do naming a roach. Thanks for sharing these - I'm so behind on my Valentine shopping!

  6. All such great ideas! I especially love the "create a memory." As time with each other and making time for each other is what matters most.

  7. Great ideas! I think that it is funny about the roach naming as I just saw a Facebook post about naming a roach after your ex. It all depends on how your look at it! Thank you for sharing!

  8. I love the blanket and a movie night idea! I may just use this!



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