Thursday, February 14, 2008

VD (no not that one)

I was just listening to the radio in the shower and heard a statistic that today, Valentines Day, $17 billion will be spent on flowers, cards, chocolates and little tiny stuffed bears. The piece went on to talk about the chocolate market, which gets cocoa beans from places in Africa like the Ivory Coast, where the majority of the workers are underaged minors. Kind of amazing to think that a greeting card company has somehow convinced us that on a certain day of the year, it is imperative that we buy gifts made by children in order to convince our significant others that we care about them. Does anyone else think this is nuts? $17 Billion? Imagine if that money went into schools, or solar research, or feeding the poor (preferably not minor produced chocolate though). I know that's naive because it doesn't really work that way, but talk about waste.

Now to the cards and gifts and flowers.  Here in the US, most of the country is not in flower growing season, so most of the flowers purchased have probably come from fairly far away requiring a tremendous amount of energy to transport them to us. They probably come in a plastic and paper wrapper which in most cases will be thrown away. Most of the cards that are bought are going to be looked at once and thrown away, if not recycled, but most won't be. The store that sold the card most likely gave it to the buyer in a small plastic bag that most people will probably throw out when they get home. And I'm not even going to get started on the waste from those chocolate boxes.

I don't mean to be all bah humbug on romance by the way, I'm all for it (as much as someone who keeps his trash in the basement can be anyway). I'm just bummed out that the concept has been hijacked and turned into something involving consumption. 

So what''s my suggestion? If you want to celebrate today, why not do something that doesn't involve simple consumption - make dinner, draw a picture, sing a song, show up at work and serenade someone, call out of the blue and simply tell them that you were thinking of them and couldn't wait until the end of the day to let them know, the list is endless. Just use your imagination and don't let the corporations tell you how you have to show your emotions. And better than all of these, do nothing today, but do something else 4 other times of the year and let your partner know that these "surprises" are in place of Vday because you don't need someone else to remind you when to act romantic.

Off to make a lovely bouquet of garbage for the missus.


P.S.  And don't shoot the messenger, I was just passing along what I heard


Anonymous said...

If you ever find yourself in a situation where you HAVE to send flowers, here's a company I enjoy:


They are a small organic family farm, they only sell what they grow (so it's all in season and nothing is imported), if you want chocolate they sell Fair Trade. Of course there is still the shipping impact.

Lola said...

That's a great idea! Thanks for sharing!

Anonymous said...

Love what you're doing...

and here are some great ways to share the love "green" style:

Here's 4 ways you can go green this Valentine's Day...

Save Rainforest for Your Valentine and chocolate!

Of course, there are always love songs... downloading can be pretty green.



Dave said...

Great ideas. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

15 years ago I made a surprise basket of healthy goodies to leave at my spouse's office. I couldn't resist including a frosting covered, heart-shaped cookie. The next year he creatively lead me on a scavenger hunt. At the end was the cookie which he had saved and hidden for the entire year. This back and forth giving of the cookie continues, even though it is as hard as stone and the frosting is crumbling. Every year it shows up in an unusual way. The remaining spouse will probably take that cookie to the grave in hopes of giving it back- just one more time. Does that count as re-use?

Dave said...

Ahhhh, I love that. I have a friend named matt and he and I have been sending Bday presents in the same bubble wrap pack for about 5 years. It's probably more tape now than wrap but it still works. It also keeps the size of the gift down. Similarly, my friend Rocky and I went about two years using the same piece of wrapping paper. The gifts got smaller each year until finally there was not much left but it worked for quite some time!