You are probably wondering what kind of Valentine’s Day blog article would focus on a “break up”. Well, welcome to our funny, not so romantic, blue-sky world. Our blue sky Valentine’s Day is filled with kindness, gender equality, positive vibes, love between all species, less plastic and mass consumption and more DIY gifts and local organic food!

Sounds amazing, right? Well here are 6 ways you can break up with plastic and food waste, and enjoy Valentine’s Day even Mother Earth would approve of! 

1 – I love you! I love chocolates! I love my planet too!

Valentine’s Day is one of the most important days of the year for the chocolate market. Some chocolate companies are rising to the challenge of making sustainable chocolate, but many others are still ignoring the climate emergency we are facing. For example, deforestation has accelerated in the past years in West Africa, the source of two-thirds of the world cocoa. Before buying chocolate, it’s important to discover where and how the cocoa was grown and produced, and understand benefits the most from the industry? It’s not easy to find answers to all these questions, but companies which produce organic and ethical chocolates can make our life a bit easier. 

But if all else fails – and if you have time – the best option is to make your own chocolate! This way you’ll not only be certain of what and where your ingredients are coming from, but you’ll also be avoiding unnecessary wrappings. The majority of chocolate wrappings are not recyclable, and with Canada’s recycling crisis, we need to avoid packaging by reducing it at the source. If you and your loved ones are chocolate friends (no shame there), most bulk stores offer a great selection of unwrapped chocolates. Because why show love with heart-shaped boxes of individually-wrapped chocolate when options with less packaging are the options we want to choose, for our beloved planet. 

© Dennis Reher / Greenpeace

2 – Spread the (home made) love

Did you know that an estimated 40 million Valentine’s cards are exchanged in Canada each year? Just think of all the plastic wrapping for each card, the paper produced, the emissions spent to deliver them, and then the waste when they’re eventually thrown away after reading them.  But there’s still a way for you to express your poetic and creative skills without all of this waste! Try your hand at making your own card from upcycled materials! And instead of sending your card by post you could give it to your loved one, friend or colleague in person. I can assure you seeing their cheeks getting red in real life is way more gratifying!

© Radim Nevyhoštený / Greenpeace

3 – The perfect outfit 

Now that we’re aware of the pollution coming from the textile industry, we don’t want to buy a new outfit on every occasion. It’s not ethically and financially acceptable but it’s understandable to enjoy looking nice at special events! Let’s take a look at some options we have to exchange or buy second-hand outfits, borrow, or rent outfits

© Radim Nevyhoštený / Greenpeace

4 – Eco-friendly dinner

More and more people are aware of the climate impacts of food and are striving to eat a low-carbon, plant-based diet. A great way to reduce our carbon footprint is to think seasonally and find out what foods are being grown where we live. By making a delicious, healthy, plant-based food with locally produced ingredients, you can make a lovely eco-friendly dinner. To help, you can find plenty of plant-based recipes here! 

If you’re simply not in the mood to cook, and you don’t have time for grocery shopping even if it is supposed to be “a special day”, not to worry! There’s an increasing number of delicious plant-based restaurants everywhere (for example in Toronto, Vancouver, and Montreal) where you can dine with your favorite person and still skip the dishes. 

© Mitja Kobal / Greenpeace

5 – Make love, not waste

This Valentine’s Day consider ditching plastic-wrapped, bouquets of flowers and packaged chocolates and give your loved one an unforgettable experience instead of material gifts! Consider whisking your loved ones away on a (romantic) weekend getaway in a treehouse, or spend the day ice-skating, tobogganing, or exploring local winter festivals. Not only will you be making the most of winter, but you’ll be boosting your endorphins as well! Another great way to get to know your date is to learn something new together. Consider visiting your local museum, art gallery, take a pottery class, or even have a laugh at a comedy show!

©Creative Common – Mark Bonica

6 – Breaking up with plastic relationships

Some breakups are unavoidable, but they can be a fresh start and filled with positive changes! Like an awkward ex, it sometimes feels like plastics are everywhere I go. I pass them on the street, at my grocery store, at my favorite restaurant, and even on my holidays.  But no matter how often we see that awkward ex, we cannot take them back! Stay strong – you can do this! It was a toxic relationship, and we need to ban it from our lives. But how do we do this? Environment Canada recently released this draft science assessments on plastic pollution which is a good start, but we are urging Trudeau’s government to go further and ban problematic and unnecessary plastics as soon as possible.

It won’t be an easy conversation for the Prime Minister, who will need to make the plastics industry understand that between him and single-use plastics, it’s over. What would such a break-up look like? We have an idea 😉

It’s time to reclaim Valentine’s Day! If this day is about love, how better than to shower our loved ones, friends, and colleagues with chocolates, meals and experiences that don’t harm the planet! 

By: Laura Bergamo, communications officer for Oceans & Plastics, and Mojgan Mohammad, communications officer for Food & Nature.

Calves in an Ecological Farm in France. © Elsa Palito / Greenpeace
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