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Gift this not that – a guide to sustainable Valentine’s Day giving

Gift this not that – a guide to sustainable Valentine’s Day giving

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All your go-to presents reimagined for greener gifting.

All your go-to presents reimagined for greener gifting.

Gift this not that – a guide to sustainable Valentine’s Day giving
Valentine’s Day is a pretty cheesy one. Whether you celebrate with a significant other, your non-romantic plus one or your whole squad (#GalentinesDay), there are lots of opportunities to show your love while being gentle on the planet. Here’s a list of the usual-suspect gifts, and what to give instead.

For yourself

You’ll never have to act like you love a gift you actually hate when you gift yourself.

The cliché: cute pjs and a bottle of wine

New things are fun, and if you need new pjs anyway, go for it. I recommend looking for something ethically sourced, like AWAN. As for the wine, look for a sustainable option, e.g. try out wine in a can or in a recyclable PET bottle.

The alternative: a cupboard cleanout and a Tise sale (wine still recommended)

This sounds like a horrible Valentine’s-Day-Grinch of an idea but hear me out. If you just want the feeling of something new and cute, chances are you could refresh any part of your home and get that new-new feeling.

So, start with a closet cleanout. Upload the pics of anything you don’t wear anymore to Tise, sell them and use the extra cash to get something sustainably made and longer lasting. Maybe it’s pjs, maybe it’s something else you didn’t think you could afford.

For your BFF

It’s about time we started celebrating the importance of friendships and platonic love. If you want to show your ride-or-die how much they mean to you, I support you.

The cliché: sheet masks and quirky socks

Self-care is vital, and I want that for your plus-one. But sheet-masks contain a lot of single-use packaging, and those cute socks probably come from a fast-fashion retailer at a low price-point with a high environmental impact. Though if you’re looking for sustainable socks, there are lots of great local sustainable brands out there. I particularly like the comfy Pierre Roberts socks. They make socks using organic cotton and recycled materials. You can also find some really cute gift sets at Grønt Skift.

The alternative: Environmentally friendly candles and vegan treats

The beauty of both of these suggestions is that you can get them again next year. Make it a tradition! BeeOrganic has some lovely and elegant candles, and they only use ethical good-for-you ingredients. When it comes to vegan treats, Oslo Raw knows how to treat us right with their selection of cakes and sweet treats.

For your friends

Chances are, this group has seen you through many new relationships and break-ups, lasting longer than any of your romantic partners. Show them some love too.

The cliché: pizza, matching hoodies and a cheesy movie on Netflix

There’s nothing wrong with a classic double cheese-fest, but if you want to avoid the packaging-waste from take-aways and the perils of fast fashion, read on.

The alternative: home-made pizza, a clothing swap and this Spotify playlist

Eliminate the waste created by take-away containers and transport, and M.Y.O. pizza. Here’s an easy skillet pizza recipe anyone can make with no special tools, and it’s a fun activity to do with friends.

Clothing swaps are a great way to get rid of clothes you may not wear again and score some new items for free, plus when you’re trying on clothes, there’s always time for a movie montage.

Obviously, these activities need a soundtrack. I suggest this one, but please bear in mind I’m a mid-thirties white woman:

For your new-ish romantic partner

Your first Valentine’s Day together can be tricky. You don’t want to get a big gift and alarm your new partner or set the bar too high for every future gift. But you also don’t want to get nothing and have them show up with a gift. Awkward.

The cliché: flowers and chocolates

While flowers are a beautiful, mood-boosting gift, we don’t often think about how sustainable they are – or in this case, aren’t. I’d never say no to chocolate but do look out for brands that use sustainably sourced cocoa and recyclable packaging.

The alternative: a pot plant in a cute locally made planter (and would still accept chocolates)

Plants are having a moment, which is great for you, the planet and, in this case, your partner too. Make sure you’ve taken note of their home environment and select the right plant for the amount of light they have. Here’s a plant guide, if you want to read more. Then put it into a cute container, like one from Ikea, made from sustainable materials.

For your longtime romantic partner

The cliché: jewellery

Listen, I’ll never say no to a new pair of earrings, especially if they’re from an ethical jeweller. But do I NEED a new pair of earrings? Probably not. Do I regularly wear all the earrings I already have? Definitely not.

The alternative: a subscription or voucher for something they love

Is there a coffee shop they go to every morning? Get a voucher for a year’s worth of coffee (or a few weeks, depending on your budget) plus a cute reusable coffee mug.

Do they reallllly love horror movies? Subscribe to a streaming platform like Shudder or find something available in your region. Add a packet of popcorn (from a zero-waste shop if possible!) to share while you watch together.

Valentine’s Day is a pretty cheesy one. Whether you celebrate with a significant other, your non-romantic plus one or your whole squad (#GalentinesDay), there are lots of opportunities to show your love while being gentle on the planet. Here’s a list of the usual-suspect gifts, and what to give instead.

For yourself

You’ll never have to act like you love a gift you actually hate when you gift yourself.

The cliché: cute pjs and a bottle of wine

New things are fun, and if you need new pjs anyway, go for it. I recommend looking for something ethically sourced, like AWAN. As for the wine, look for a sustainable option, e.g. try out wine in a can or in a recyclable PET bottle.

The alternative: a cupboard cleanout and a Tise sale (wine still recommended)

This sounds like a horrible Valentine’s-Day-Grinch of an idea but hear me out. If you just want the feeling of something new and cute, chances are you could refresh any part of your home and get that new-new feeling.

So, start with a closet cleanout. Upload the pics of anything you don’t wear anymore to Tise, sell them and use the extra cash to get something sustainably made and longer lasting. Maybe it’s pjs, maybe it’s something else you didn’t think you could afford.

For your BFF

It’s about time we started celebrating the importance of friendships and platonic love. If you want to show your ride-or-die how much they mean to you, I support you.

The cliché: sheet masks and quirky socks

Self-care is vital, and I want that for your plus-one. But sheet-masks contain a lot of single-use packaging, and those cute socks probably come from a fast-fashion retailer at a low price-point with a high environmental impact. Though if you’re looking for sustainable socks, there are lots of great local sustainable brands out there. I particularly like the comfy Pierre Roberts socks. They make socks using organic cotton and recycled materials. You can also find some really cute gift sets at Grønt Skift.

The alternative: Environmentally friendly candles and vegan treats

The beauty of both of these suggestions is that you can get them again next year. Make it a tradition! BeeOrganic has some lovely and elegant candles, and they only use ethical good-for-you ingredients. When it comes to vegan treats, Oslo Raw knows how to treat us right with their selection of cakes and sweet treats.

For your friends

Chances are, this group has seen you through many new relationships and break-ups, lasting longer than any of your romantic partners. Show them some love too.

The cliché: pizza, matching hoodies and a cheesy movie on Netflix

There’s nothing wrong with a classic double cheese-fest, but if you want to avoid the packaging-waste from take-aways and the perils of fast fashion, read on.

The alternative: home-made pizza, a clothing swap and this Spotify playlist

Eliminate the waste created by take-away containers and transport, and M.Y.O. pizza. Here’s an easy skillet pizza recipe anyone can make with no special tools, and it’s a fun activity to do with friends.

Clothing swaps are a great way to get rid of clothes you may not wear again and score some new items for free, plus when you’re trying on clothes, there’s always time for a movie montage.

Obviously, these activities need a soundtrack. I suggest this one, but please bear in mind I’m a mid-thirties white woman:

For your new-ish romantic partner

Your first Valentine’s Day together can be tricky. You don’t want to get a big gift and alarm your new partner or set the bar too high for every future gift. But you also don’t want to get nothing and have them show up with a gift. Awkward.

The cliché: flowers and chocolates

While flowers are a beautiful, mood-boosting gift, we don’t often think about how sustainable they are – or in this case, aren’t. I’d never say no to chocolate but do look out for brands that use sustainably sourced cocoa and recyclable packaging.

The alternative: a pot plant in a cute locally made planter (and would still accept chocolates)

Plants are having a moment, which is great for you, the planet and, in this case, your partner too. Make sure you’ve taken note of their home environment and select the right plant for the amount of light they have. Here’s a plant guide, if you want to read more. Then put it into a cute container, like one from Ikea, made from sustainable materials.

For your longtime romantic partner

The cliché: jewellery

Listen, I’ll never say no to a new pair of earrings, especially if they’re from an ethical jeweller. But do I NEED a new pair of earrings? Probably not. Do I regularly wear all the earrings I already have? Definitely not.

The alternative: a subscription or voucher for something they love

Is there a coffee shop they go to every morning? Get a voucher for a year’s worth of coffee (or a few weeks, depending on your budget) plus a cute reusable coffee mug.

Do they reallllly love horror movies? Subscribe to a streaming platform like Shudder or find something available in your region. Add a packet of popcorn (from a zero-waste shop if possible!) to share while you watch together.

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