With Valentines day right around the corner, you may be wondering what to give your sweetheart to celebrate that special day. Why not make it special and unique for both the one you love, and the earth at the same time? It’s actually pretty easy to do and will give you a nice warm fuzzy feeling. I’ve got your basics covered- eco jewelry, local natural chocolate truffles, and locally grown cut and live flowers.
Flowers are wonderful in so many ways. They are beautiful, fragrant, colorful and can brighten any room and anyone’s day, but where do they come from? When valentines day rolls around, all of a sudden there is a huge influx of roses, tulips, carnations and cut flower bouquets, and they seem to be unreasonably cheap for all this demand. The reason for this is that they are grown in huge flower farms in other countries, and then shipped to the US. The problem with this is similar to picked fruits and vegetables- lack of pesticide regulations overseas in addition to all of the environmental costs of transportation and USDA pest treatment requirements. Previous articles on the subject from The Sierra Club and thestreet.com explain the pitfalls.
Many environmentally harmful pesticides which have been banned in the US, are still being used in other parts of the world. Compound that with pesticide treatments upon importation to the US, and all of the transportation and delivery costs, its no wonder cut flowers can be a eco and health nightmare. But it need not be! Check out your local farmers market, ask your florist where their flowers come from and support local farmers. GivingPlants.com is a great internet based operation working with and supporting California farmers and nursery’s, or you can find local farms and organic growers in your area by searching localharvest.org. Not only will these choices benefit the environment, but your flowers will last a great deal longer. Another great alternative to cut flowers are live blooming flowers and plants, that way you can enjoy them for years to come.
Chocolate is a mainstay of valentines day and the varieties seem endless, but not all are created equal. Chocolate is is made from the cacao bean, however many treats we call ‘chocolate’ have hardly any cacao in them. Take a traditional Hershey’s chocolate bar, it contains only contains between 4% and 10 % chocolate. The rest of it is sugars, emulsifiers, milk solids, and other fillers. The source of the antioxidant powers and euphoric brain chemicals is the cacao, and for many, so is the taste.
There is another element of the chocolate equation. Chocolate is grown in similar regions as coffee, and has the same issues with fair trade and wage practices where the farmer is not paid a fair living wage. Theo Chocolate has thought of all of this, and is actually the only chocolate company in the US that is an Organic, Fair Trade, bean to bar chocolate factory. Their high cacao content chocolate and limited essential ingredients make for a wonderful tasting experience.[ad name=”Go-JP Rectangle”]
If truffles are more your (or your loves’) thing, then try Intrigue Chocolates for an order of their natural exotic french truffles in many unique flavors. Handmade from seasonally fresh market ingredients like rose petals, pomegranate, and honey, each truffle is a true culinary experience.
Jewelry is a very popular gift around this time, but do you know where yours came from? Before you buy, ask a few questions so you don’t end up inadvertently supporting modern day slavery and environmental pillaging. You may have heard about ‘blood diamonds’, but did you know the same kinds of things go on for just about all precious metals and jems, including gold? If you are considering diamonds, check out my previous article on eco diamonds and jewelry.The most important thing is to hold your jeweler accountable for their claims of ‘conflict free’ jewelry by getting source certifications and guarantees. There are several eco conscious jewelers out there, some which promote reclaimed materials, such as renewed gold and vintage pieces. Check out NoDirtyGold.org for more information on gold mining practices.
There are other green alternatives that can be more unique and special, such as a intricate wood ring made from an old heirloom, or a one of a kind bracelet or necklace from an eco artist. With all of the wonderful eco friendly environmentally conscious artists out there, it is easy to find beautiful treasures that are not found at traditional jewelry stores. One that will be special and have more meaning, while being gentle to the environment at the same time. Sounds like a win-win to me!