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February 14, 2017

Not just Once a Year—5 Creative Ways to Recycle Valentine’s Day Gifts.

Valentine’s Day is here.

It is a commercial holiday in many ways, and most people either love it or hate it. But there’s a way to make it more eco-friendly and to think about our impact on the planet.

Soon after the special day, for those who are lucky in love, fortunate in friends or who just care about themselves, there may be wilting flowers, drooping balloons and discarded candy boxes around the house.

Before we throw out those Valentine’s gifts, let’s take a look at how to reduce, reuse or recycle them to be a little more friendly to Mother Earth.

Roses

When the roses are fresh, they make lovely décor. When they begin to wilt, there are many ways to recycle rose petals for other purposes. Here are just a few:

  1. Dry them out and use them for DIY potpourri or drawer sachets. You can also save a few to tuck into envelopes for handwritten letters (assuming anyone still handwrites letters). You can also sew them into a sleep mask for a lovely scent!
  2. Remove the petals to enjoy a long and luxurious bath in the rose-scented water. I recommend listening to Moonlight Sonata or Clair de Lune and lighting a few candles for added atmosphere.
  3. Apparently, roses are antiseptic, antiviral and antibacterial. Place fresh petals on small cuts. Also, infusing rose petals in honey is said to relieve a sore throat.
  4. Make a rosewater tea (but please, use only organic roses if you plan to drink this in order to avoid exposure to harmful chemicals in pesticides). Rose water can also be used as a facial toner or as a linen spray or room freshener.
  5. Add rose petals to a salad for flavor and texture (use only organic roses).
  6. Float rose petals in a glass bowl as décor. Perhaps place a few tea light candles nearby for added ambiance.

Greeting Cards

  1. Instead of throwing out those Valentine cards, donate them to St. Jude’s Ranch’s Recycled Card Programme (or another local recycling progamme) where children can reuse them!
  2. If the card is particularly special to you, have it framed and displayed.
  3. Greeting cards can also be turned into postcards or used in collages or scrapbooking.

Mylar Balloons

  1. Mylar balloons are particularly harmful to the environment when thrown away. Here’s a tip: cut them open and turn them into gift bags. Instead of purchasing a gift bag for wine, use the balloon!
  2. If you are particularly artistic, check Pinterest for creative ideas how to reuse old balloons.
  3. Many balloons can be inflated again later. Save some balloons for future occasions. I have often re-used birthday balloons for other events.

Candy Boxes

  1. Before throwing out that empty chocolate box, consider using it again as a gift box. Simply tie a ribbon around a beautiful Valentine’s box and voilà!
  2. Candy boxes can also hold jewelry, craft supplies or to used in drawers to sort small items. Need a place to store extra buttons or safety pins? Candy boxes are the perfect size!
  3. One idea that I find enchanting is to take a lovely Valentine’s candy box, perhaps a heart-shaped one, and turn it into a clock for a child’s room. I have made a clock out of a recycled book. Making a clock is easy! Just purchase a clock kit, make a hole in the front of the Valentine’s box and install your clock inside. It’s cute, creative and a great way to reuse that box.

The Feeling

  1. When we’re fortunate enough to receive a Valentine (or Galentine, for those who prefer that February 13th occasion), we often feel beautiful, special and loved. It’s wonderful to receive a thoughtful gift, even if we buy that gift for ourselves to honor the day and celebrate ourselves. Reuse and recycle that feeling by doing something that makes others feel the same.
  2. We can pay compliments to others. We can surprise a friend, coworker or even a stranger with a kind gesture to make them feel special. We can open doors or simply greet and make eye contact with servers, cashiers and anyone we encounter during a day to let them know that we are glad they are there. We can be openly affectionate, give hugs and tell others we love them so that they feel as loved as we felt when we received that special gift.
  3. And for those who received nothing for the occasion and felt let down, sad or lonely, there’s still a way to salvage something reusable in that experience (the case often in my own life). We can take that feeling and make sure that we don’t treat others in a way that leaves them feeling let down, sad or lonely.Instead, we can choose to do something that makes others feel better, and this will help us feel better, too. We can even choose to celebrate ourselves or other singles on days that seem reserved for couples, and do something to reclaim our right to be happy—no matter our relationship status.

 

By doing all the above, we can learn to think outside of the chocolate box and make Valentine’s Day more meaningful.

We don’t have to feel sad when flowers die or boxes are discarded because we can make sure that we are the thoughtful consumers who will find a way to reduce the negative impact on the Earth.

We’ll add beauty to the world and not simply add volume to the local landfill.

I hope that we can take all of that positive feeling and turn it into something beautiful to pass on to someone else.

~

Author: Crystal Jackson

Image: slgckgc/ Flickr & Instagram

Editor: Sara Kärpänen

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