February 10, 2009

How to Green your Valentine’s Day: Make it Local, & Make your Own.

The key to a Green Valentine’s Day (or any holiday) is this: Make it Local, and Make it Handmade.

Luckily, those same two rules are the key to turning a Hallmark-invented, mass-produced, slightly sickening (to some) holiday into something actually heartfelt and memorable and fun, and isn’t that what we all want out of Valentine’s anyway?

If you’re thinking, “I don’t have time,” or “I don’t know how,” just hold that thought right there, Buster. The whole point of celebrating a day devoted to love is to re-arrange our priority lists, even if for one evening, and put friends, families and partnerships at the tippy top. It may require some extra thought (read: major brownie points with your Valentine), but is way easier than you might think:

Thanks to the environmental movement, we can no longer ignore the fact that shipping = carbon emissions = climate change. So for this Green Valentine’s celebration, we’re going to do without the strawberries (unless, of course, you live in So. Cal or Florida) and the French champagne. For me, local means Boulder, Colorado, but if you live elsewhere, please comment and share your own local tips.

Local chocolate: Chocolove was made for eating on Valentine’s Day, with a romantic poem tucked inside each wrapper. Crafted in Boulder, Colorado, the bars come in a variety of flavors (my favs are the Dark Chocolate with Raspberries and the 70% Strong Dark), including two organic options.

Local wine: Make it red, local and, if possible, organic. Walk into any wine shop and ask, “Do you have any wines from _____ (insert state you live in)?” Chances are you’ll find something new, different and with all the character of your own backyard. Then, recycle your corks!

Local restaurants: Use this occasion to support a local, independent business, preferably one that supports local, independent farmers. Boulder’s darling eco Slow Food hotspots The Kitchen and Organic Orbit are likely booked for reservations, so Plan B is to support an independent or family-owned spot. Some of my favorites in Boulder, which do not require reservations, include: Hapa, Sherpa’s and Il Pastaio.

Local jewelry: Local, handmade jewelry is one-of-a-kind, and made with love. In Boulder, Angie Star gets my top rating for both funky and elegant designs. Also, check out Lindsey’s review of Boulder’s Starfish Jewelry

Local candles: Conventional candles are loaded with chemicals, and some contain lead in their wicks. Beeswax candles are always a safe bet. And keeping with our local theme, Boulder-based Lumia Organics makes organic candles right here in Boulder.

Local Flowers: You may not get roses (who needs convention?), but Fiori Flowers in Boulder offers locally-sourced, hothouse grown flowers year-round. If you’re lucky enough to live in a warmer clime, head to your local farmer’s market for a possibly organic, farm fresh bouquet.

Local Getaway: For those in Boulder, Gold Lake Resort, just about 40 minutes outside of town, near Ward, Colorado, is perfect for those who like their romances lit by moonlight, with a private cabin, outdoor hot pool and gourmet, locally-sourced meals on the side. (Though Gold Lake is probably booked for this year, you can always start making plans for February 2010…)


Make dinner: I’m a last-minute planner, which means that every year, whether or not I have a date, it’s impossible to find Valentine’s day reservations. A home-cooked meal can be less stressful than braving the dining crowds, and is also a great way to impress your date (whether male or female). The Kitchen, Boulder’s favorite slow foodie destination mentioned above, publishes some of their favorite recipes online. Or you can just make pasta. If you’re not narrowing your V-day celebrations to one person, considering hosting a dinner party or potluck at your home, with other couples or a group of friends

Make your own Valentine: Nothing melts the heart like a homemade Valentine. And imperfection is part of the charm—so grab whatever paper you have in the recycling bin, a pair of scissors, a stick of glue, some markers, and go crazy. Go traditional and cut hearts out of different colored paper, or add a poem (Pablo Neruda’s love poems are an old standby, but don’t stop there—add some Ginsberg, some haiku…or something un-romantic that just seems sweet.) And if you don’t have just one special someone—even better! That means you get to make cards for everyone you fancy.

Make love: We all know where local wine and local candles can lead, so on your way out, stop by Sarah Miller’s post on green sex toys.

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