Roses, chocolate, love notes… Valentine’s Day is today and you’ve probably given some thought to the ways you’ll shower your friends and loved ones with care… but what about the Earth? This Valentine’s Day, why not do something different and show the environment some love — it’s the perfect way to connect with the Earth outside your door, and you might just connect with someone special while you’re at it!
Below are 6 simple ways to give back to Mother Earth this February 14th. Try ‘em out, then make a plan to give back more frequently throughout the year to really make an impact!
#1 — Take a ‘No Plastic’ Vow
Take a different kind of vow this Valentine’s Day and swear off plastic. A ‘No Plastic’ challenge (for a week… or a lifetime) is an excellent way to curb your waste while getting a first-hand look at your own consumption (hint: it ain’t pretty). As most of us know by now, plastic is a huge problem for our environment, and many of us are committed to bringing our reusable bags to the market, recycling our empties, and saying no when offered a plastic bag when out shopping… but the problem of plastic is much bigger, and whether we like it or not, we’re all using too much.
A ‘No Plastic’ challenge is a great way to hold a magnifier to the everyday, minute choices we make as consumers and the sneaky ways plastic of all shapes and sizes makes its way into our lives (hello fancy plastic tea bags… really!). Ready to get started? Blogger Lee Tilghman, of Lee From America, has a handy guide for swearing off plastic for a week. Follow her steps to get an in-depth look at your habits and swear your undying love for Mother Earth.
#2 — Shop Local
Still want to celebrate all things pink and sparkly this Valentine’s Day? That’s OK! But instead of turning to online sources of ready-made treats, sweets and gifts, cut down on the cost of shipping — both monetary and environmental — and shop from local makers, artisans and farms.
While online shopping may be convenient, the environmental costs of making plastic knicknacks and shipping them across the world can be astronomical. As an alternative, connect with makers in your community, or find something handmade and super special at a craft fair or maker market. The benefits will be more than seeing your special someone’s eyes light up — you’ll connect with others in your community, support the local economy, and relieve the Earth of some of the burden of moving those goods from country to country.
#3 — Join a Composting Program
According to the EPA, over 97% of our food waste ends up in landfills. Take a minute to soak that in… That’s a huge amount of organic waste that could be reused as nutrient-rich compost for local farms (or your own backyard!). While the uninitiated my scrunch up their noses at the thought of composting food scraps like egg shells, fruit peels, and produce past its prime, that organic waste could mean the difference between nutrient-deficient, and nutrient-dense soil.
Believe it or not, soil isn’t always rich with the necessary vitamins and minerals needed to grow our food. After years of over farming, pesticide use, and environmental factors, the soil beneath our feet is often left depleted and void of the important factors that make our food grow. Many farmers choose to use chemical fertilizer as a shortcut, but whether you’re a backyard grower or own a farm, good old organic compost is the far better choice in terms of food quality and health for the surrounding eco-system.
Instead of tossing your scraps in the garbage, show the Earth (and your community) some love by either starting your own compost system for your personal garden (here’s a great tutorial to get you started), or signing up for a local compost program (yes, they’re even available in big cities). Most compost programs will even provide finished composted soil for your personal garden, whether you’re growing herbs in post, or nurturing a raised bed garden on your patio, so it’s a win-win system!
#4 — Give Your Time
You don’t have to spend money to show how much you care — instead, sign up for a local clean up organization or environmental group and give your time. Even better, sign up with your sweetheart! Sharing the experience of volunteering with someone you love — or even someone you’re interested in! — is an amazing way to get to know one another on a different level and connect over a shared passion and experience.
And for you singles out there looking to find that special someone, volunteering your time could be your ticket to love. What better way to connect with others who share similar values than by giving your time to a cause? Check out local groups for beach and park cleanups (many are happening this time of year as the snow melts and reveals what’s underneath), tree planting, recycling drives, clothing drives, and more, or head to VolunteerMatch.org to find the perfect opportunity for you!
#5 — Organize a Cleanup
More of a leader than a follower? Organize your own beach, park, roadway or forest cleanup! Litter is an enormous environmental threat, not just to the birds, plants, animals and people who are directly affected by it directly. Only about one-third of the world’s trash gets recycled… what happens to the rest? It ends up in landfills, incinerators, or on the ground.
To make matters worse, that litter blowing in the street often makes its way to waterways, like oceans, rivers and streams, where it becomes a threat to marine life. Above water, litter wreaks havoc on wildlife, on public health, and in a more aesthetic sense, the the natural beauty of the earth. What can you do? Gather up a group of friends, then ask your friends to bring their friends, and grab some safety gloves and bags. Find an area that needs some love, and start picking up! Better yet, make like sustainable outdoor brand, United By Blue, and give away (environmentally friendly) prizes for weirdest trash find and most bags filled. You’ll be helping the earth, meeting new friends and having fun — all with a greater purpose in mind!
#6 — Make Something Good
We all like a little something special from time to time. If gift giving is your thing, why not try to take the handmade approach and make your sweetie something sweet? Edible and beauty-based gifts are a wonderful waste-free alternative, especially if you’re trying to cut down on clutter. Instead of purchasing a pre-made box of chocolates, try your hand at DIY Rose Chocolate Bark, or create a spa-like experience with a DIY Custom Sugar Scrub or DIY Pillow Spray.
Be sure to bring your reusable packaging when shopping for supplies and always buy from the bulk section, if possible, to cut down on waste (bonus: you’ll save some money too, when you only buy what you need!). Combined with a ‘No Plastic’ challenge, taking the DIY route can be a fun way to challenge yourself to go waste-free, and you might even surprise yourself with your DIY skills!
How are you giving back to the Earth on Valentine’s Day? Share with us on Instagram or Facebook with @AvocadoMattress or #AvocadoGreenMagazine
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