Your Guide to a Sustainable Valentine’s Day

Lily Chambers, BLUEPRINT Project Communications Officer 1st February 2022

It’s that time of the year where love is in the air and we’re celebrating those we care about. This February, untangle yourself from the sticky grip of consumerism and show our wonderful planet some love too.

Check out our tips and tricks for a waste-free Valentine’s Day below.

Decorations

If you like to go big and jazz the place up, consider plastic-free alternatives to decorations. Swap balloons for paper lanterns and plastic confetti for biodegradable confetti, then reuse them for another occasion. You could even get really creative and cut confetti shapes from red onion skins or leaves, which can go straight into your food caddy or compost bin afterwards!

Red onion skin
Shapes can be cut out of red onion skins and used as confetti.


Looking the part

If you’re planning on dressing up for a fun night out, try renting a special outfit instead of hitting the shops for more clothes. Renting clothes reduces the likelihood of more textiles ending up in landfill and it also helps you bag a special outfit at a fraction of the original cost. Alternatively, make sure to browse pre-loved websites and stores before buying anything new.

Clothes on a rail
Treat yourself to a special outfit at a lower cost when you rent.


Cards

Brits purchase around 18 million Valentine’s cards a year and many of these end up in the bin! Instead of buying a standard greetings card, why not consider sending an e-card or making your own from materials you have lying around? 

If you have to buy a card, ensure it’s made from recycled paper and avoid ones with glitter, foil or plastic, as these cannot be recycled. Alternatively, you could buy a card made from wildflower seeds. When planted, these will eventually produce wonderful flowers that you (and pollinators) can enjoy.

Wildflowers blooming in a field
Cards made from wildflower seeds can be planted to produce valuable resources for pollinators.


DIY

You don’t have to break the bank to show someone you care. Put some time in to making your own gifts that are even more thoughtful. You could create some Valentine’s vouchers, which could include future date ideas or fun favours…. just get crafty!

Two people exchanging tickets
Buy less 'stuff' and create vouchers for your loved ones to cash in at another time.


Get cooking

Nothing says ‘I love you’ like the smell of cookies baking in the oven. Why not don your chef hat and treat someone to some freshly baked treats or even a three-course meal? Make sure to source your food locally and use up what you have in the fridge first. If you don’t know where to start, there are plenty of websites and apps offering recipe inspiration to use up ingredients you already have. When shopping, avoid plastic where you can and make the most out of refill services, then remember to store or freeze any leftovers you have to enjoy at another time.

Baked cookies
Making your own treats will reduce the amount of packaging you dispose of and uses up perishable food.


Plants

Instead of flowers that will eventually wilt and die, mix it up and buy native potted plants this year. Not only will these outlive bouquets that may have also been imported from far away, but they can produce better air quality in the home and are fantastic for your mental health.

Monstera houseplant
A potted plant will outlive any bouquet and has far more benefits.


Second-hand

Not all gifts need to be brand-spanking-new. There are so many wonderful clothes, games, furniture pieces and more sitting in second-hand shops just waiting to be loved. It doesn’t stop there either; you could completely transform something that looks a bit old fashioned or worse for wear by upcycling it into a one-of-a-kind piece that no one else has… how exciting!

A couple in a second-hand shop
Second-hand shops are a treasure trove just waiting to be explored.


Wrapping presents

This year, ditch the unrecyclable paper and plastic sticky tape and opt for recyclable brown paper, string and paper tape instead. You can also use fabric to wrap items, which is far simpler than using paper. The fabric can be part of the Valentine’s gift or retrieved to use another time.

A present wrapped in fabric
Wrapping paper is created to be torn apart and disposed of. Mix it up and use fabric that you can reuse again and again. 


Experiences

To avoid the throwaway culture altogether, treat the people you love to an experience rather than gifts that they may end up throwing away. The memories you make will outlive any stuffed animal or fancy chocolate box.

A treetop ladder obstacle
Booking local experiences to enjoy will prevent anything from eventually ending up in landfill.


Support local  

If you need a helping hand sourcing a sustainable Valentine’s gift, why not check out the BLUEPRINT circular economy directory? Featuring businesses helping the country transition to a circular economy, the directory showcases the likes of refill stations, farm shops, zero-waste businesses and more.

Infinity sign on a chalkboard
The BLUEPRINT circular economy directory lists businesses, services, charities and brands helping us to accelerate to a circular economy.