Valentine’s doesn’t need to be steeped in consumerism. A thoughtful gift with both your loved one and the environment in mind is actually quite simple! We explore a few sustainable options for gifts, outings and even creative pursuits…
Green gift ideas
A personalized gift makes for a much more lasting expression of love, and best of all it doesn’t have to cost much at all. Don’t forget the simple power of a handwritten card – best of all you can source cards made locally from recycled paper
for your special message, or get creative and make your own!
Photo credit: giftsforyounow.com
If you have a knack for crafts, a lovely idea is to take a photo of yourself and your loved one and create your own one-of-a-kind jigsaw puzzle! Simply glue the photo to a piece of cardboard which you can up-cycle yourself, the board from the back of an old exam pad is perfect.
There are thousands of jigsaw templates available online. Use a craft knife to trace along the shape outlines – a truly personal gift with no harm done to the environment!
A nice use for the leftover foil pull-offs from coffee tins and similar tubular tins is to make your own recycled flowers. Much more thoughtful and longer lasting than the last minute petrol station bought variety, and these are so easy to make you can involve the kids too! Plus it means those lids don’t end up in the bin:
But if crafting just isn’t your thing, there are plenty of thoughtful gifts which can be purchased for every personality.
A wonderful idea is to give a potted plant – herbs are a lovely idea for anyone who likes to cook, as well as doing their little bit for the environment.
And if your beloved is a keen gardener, why not invest in a worm farm?
The Bokashi Kitchen Composter kit
is a lovely idea especially for smaller gardens where a full-size compost heap isn’t possible.
It’s always tricky to get something for the guys, but encourage his outdoorsy side with something practical, like the multi-purpose and very manly Solar Go Buddy by Naturally Solar - both a multi-purpose solar light, and coupled with the optional Charge Buddy provides not only up to 12 hours of strong light, but power for most USB-chargeable gadgets.
Best of all, it’s on sale right now, and right here
Of course, there’s no South African male who doesn’t like to braai, and the Envirofit Charcoal Stove
boasts the best levels of CO2 reduction of any charcoal stove on the market, so he has something to brag about too. While you’re at it? Grab some eco-friendly, long-burning firelighters at just R18 each when you buy 20!
For the green goddess out there, eco-friendly candles made from natural beeswax are always a win.
This geranium scented beeswax candle
and charming make-your-own candle
sets are available from Faithful to
Nature, and if your lady love is plagued by mozzies during the South African summer you can even go for the citronella variety. And for that little bit of pampering with a truly African touch, this Wema Rose salt scrub
is made from natural salt harvested in the Kalahari!
Another great idea that truly encompasses the gift of giving are these charming and inexpensive bracelets
from Goodness in a Box, where a portion of proceeds go to Food and Trees for Africa or towards anti-Rhino poaching projects – a great gift with a conscience which supports the local community too.
Alternatively, giving an antique gift means that no new materials are used, and buying from a local craft market supports smaller entrepreneurs and helps in fighting the scourge of unemployment.
Keeping it African and good for the environment, a lovely idea are these reversible 100% African Shweshwe shopping bags
, produced locally with the aim of reducing the need for plastic shopping bags.
If your man isn’t the outdoor type, Shweshwe also
makes for smart-looking shirts
with that African flair, and supports local crafters too. Best of all they are reverse-printed so he gets two gifts in one!
So you have your thoughtful green gift, now how to celebrate the occasion? Seeing flowers are such a traditional part of Valentine’s day, why not set out for a romantic picnic at your nearest botanical gardens, or consider planting an indigenous tree together as a show of solidarity which will last for years.
A candle-lit dinner never goes out of style, but you could consider making a gift out of the occasion too – the stunning Mooni Blowfish solar table light
gives off a beautiful flickering light for that romantic ambience.
And the ever-increasingly popular Consol Solar Jars
are practically a load-shedding must have!
What to serve? 60% of all FairTrade Wines sold are from South Africa, so there’s really no excuse on that front! Keep a look out for Douglas Green, Spier’s Frieda’s Vine, and Van Loveren’s Five’s Reserve wines which are FairTrade certified – this means that are they produced under ethical and environmentally sensitive conditions, and they’re available from almost all retail chains which stock wines.
If you do want to plan an evening out or a weekend away, have a look at Eco Atlas
and Green Tourism
’s websites; where you can search for sustainably certified and eco-friendly restaurants, hotels and outdoor opportunities in your area!
So there we have it – simple ways to send a little love in the direction of the environment as well this Valentines’ Day. - By Cat Robinson.