People around the world will celebrate Valentine’s Day on Feb. 14 by expressing their love for each other and exchanging thoughtful gifts, gestures, and words.
This year's festivities may look a little different due to COVID-19 and social distancing, but that doesn't mean you can't still celebrate — and do good at the same time. Instead of just buying chocolates or flowers, what if you showed your love through meaningful gifts that champion sustainability, fight systems of inequality, and help end poverty?
Not only can you help make a difference in the world, but you and your loved ones can also commemorate your shared values to help others.
Here are seven ways that Global Citizens can celebrate their love while also helping to make the world a better, more sustainable, and more just place.
1. Buy sustainably sourced flowers for someone you love.
Flowers are probably the most traditional gift on Valentine’s Day. However, even a bouquet of red roses can have severe effects on the environment.
The Washington Post found that 80% of the 5.6 billion flowers sold in the US are imported, which leads to increased carbon emissions. On top of that, when flowers have to travel long distances, they require more chemicals to keep them fresh for longer.
Many of these flowers are grown in countries where the use of harmful pesticides is less regulated. Beyond destroying the natural environment, workers on the farms are also exposed to toxic pesticides that can have detrimental health effects.
Instead of contributing to the commercial flower industry, look for sustainable florists that grow organic flowers locally to minimize your carbon footprint.
2. Plant a tree in your valentine’s name.
Trees remove millions of pounds of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere and are an essential part of the fight against climate change. When you support organizations that plant trees, you can be a part of the solution for a more sustainable world, as trees convert carbon dioxide to oxygen.
The Arbor Day Foundation is one of many organizations where you can honor your loved ones by naming a tree after them. Trees can be a beautiful way to share your love with someone, as trees grow stronger and can survive for years — the perfect testament to your relationship.
Even if you don’t donate to an organization that plants trees, you and your partner can spend a romantic Valentine’s Day planting a tree in your own backyard.
3. Adopt an animal to show your commitment.
If you and your partner are spending more time at home due to the pandemic, adopting a pet could be the perfect way to channel your free time into good by saving an animal’s life.
Every year, 8 to 12 million dogs and cats are euthanized because there are not enough homes for them, according to Helping Hands. Adopting pets from shelters also helps avoid the cruelty that animals experience in mass breeding facilities and inspires others to adopt instead of shop.
The gift of a new puppy or kitten could bring you and your partner closer than ever before as you work together to care for the new addition to your family.
Is adopting and caring for a new pet not exactly for you right now? You can symbolically adopt an animal through WWF instead. In exchange for a donation supporting the organization's conservation work protecting animals and their habitats, you get a plush version of the animal you adopted.
4. Gift a cup of coffee or tea that champions social causes.
Throughout the pandemic, social distancing measures, and stressful news cycles, a warm cup of coffee or tea is sure to bring a smile to your partner’s face.
When you buy Change Please coffee, the organization supports people experiencing housing insecurity. Through training, employment, housing, and therapy support, Change Please is rehabilitating people and helping to end homelessness.
If your partner prefers tea, Tea People helps you find delicious, award-winning teas while also supporting a social cause. Tea People uses 50% of all profits to support educational projects in tea-growing regions.
5. Spend time together taking a class from a local business.
While you might have celebrated Valentine’s Day 2020 out at a nice dinner or bar, this year will likely look very different. Instead of another quarantined night on the couch, you can spend your Valentine’s Day enjoying quality time with your partner learning a new skill while also supporting local businesses.
If you and your partner are all about quality time together instead of gift-giving, online classes could be a great way to do so while helping local businesses who might be struggling during the pandemic.
Many businesses are currently offering classes, from wine and cheese tasting and beer brewing to candle making or painting, that you can take from the comfort of your own home on Zoom.
6. Give a gift that gives back to vulnerable communities.
Oxfam is one of many charities that allows you to give a gift to a community in honor of your loved one. Oxfam's services are designed to bring lasting change by providing goats, safe drinking water, or blankets to vulnerable communities. These are unique and memorable gifts for people who are passionate about directly helping to end global poverty.
You can also use Valentine's Day as a reason to donate directly to other organizations tackling poverty, food and hunger, climate change, gender inequality, and global health.