By Amy Levin-Epstein for Green Goes Simple
This February 14th, you may be tempted to spend some serious dough on your darlings. According to a National Retail Federation survey, the average shopper is expected to spend $116 this Valentine’s Day — an 11-percent increase from last year!
You can go easier on your savings and the environment by using a little ingenuity and elbow grease. Who wants another piece of jewelry, anyway? (OK, we all do!) But we definitely don’t want another greeting card that’s going to end up in the trash or buried under a pile of papers. Try these easy ideas to make your V-Day a little bit greener.
Valentine’s Crafts for Kids
Let your little ones express their inner artists with a homemade Valentine’s vase. Find a reusable jar, bottle or other vase-like container — for younger kids, pick something shatterproof like a Pringles container. Choose a colorful cotton sock that’s past its prime and cover your container. Tuck the top of the sock in or let it scrunch up for a different effect; if your vase has trouble standing up, cut the bottom of the sock off and glue it to the container. For more sock-related gift ideas, check out The Lonely Sock Club: One Sock, Tons of Cool Projects by Laurie Goldrich Wolf. (Hint: This is a great way to use those heart-speckled socks you bought a few Valentine’s ago!)
A plant is the gift that keeps on giving. Choosing a pretty potted plant over the usual cut flowers is a better environmental decision. Pick one up from your local farmers market rather than ordering it online — you’ll cut down on your carbon footprint and you’ll be able to see your gift in person before giving it to your sweetie. Make it every bit as pretty as a dozen roses by wrapping it in eco-friendly paper and bows.
E-cards With a Plus
An e-card is already better for our earth than the paper version. But you can enhance the give-back nature of your greeting even more with electronic cards from organizations like The Hunger Site . Choose a “Fund a Free Meal” e-card, and your cute and caring gesture will also provide a meal for a hungry person in need.
Handmade Valentine’s Cards
If e-cards aren’t your thing, a handmade Valentine’s Day card can be a loving gesture — even if you’re way past your arts-and-crafts prime. Not sure where to start? First, source the right — and recycled, of course — materials, then supplement them with supplies from your local craft store.
Green crafting expert Sandy Sandler likes to use leftover cardboard. “For the outer base layer of your card, expose the center of corrugated cardboard — this creates an edgy and chic look,” she says. “Then layer torn handmade paper on the front and inside of the card. When handmade paper is torn, fibers are revealed and it creates a soft feeling perfect for Valentine’s Day.” Next, decorate your card with bright buttons or extra fabric you have lying around (bridesmaid swatches, anyone?). For more green V-Day crafting ideas, visit Sandler’s blog.
Modernized Mix Tapes
Bring your old-school musical mix technique into the modern world — your crush loved it in the 7th grade, and your honey will still love it today! Grab his iPod and download the newest album from his favorite artist, treat him to a funny or interesting Podcast, or create a playlist of romantic songs.
Amy Levin-Epstein is a freelance writer who’s been published in magazines like Glamour, Self and Prevention, on websites like AOL, Babble and Details.com and in newspapers like the New York Post and the Boston Globe. You can read more of her writing at AmyLevinEpstein.com.