An Eco-Friendly Valentine

Valentine’s Day is coming up on Sunday, and although it will be a little strange and “distanced” this year for many (especially with curfew and other restrictions) I thought I would put forward a few little suggestions for how one could celebrate in a rather more eco-friendly manner. I hope these thoughts will resonate with you, if you feel inclined to take a little time and “go green.”

This post was actually inspired by my grand-niece in London, who has a great love of chocolate (well, who doesn’t). She is the family’s small eco-warrior. She discovered that her favorite brand of chocolate unfortunately used palm oil, and sent a letter to the company, as follows:

Dear Mr. Cadbury: I love Fudge Bars. Please don’t use palm oil in it. You are spoiling the Orang-Utan’s home. From Ottilie

Short and to the point.

Of course, chocolates are normally de rigueur for Valentine’s gifts. On that note, I received a note from the Orangutan Land Trust in the UK, who kindly shared some brands of chocolate that are “orang-utan friendly”:

  • Here are a few more ideas:

Treat your partner to a local cuisine – somewhere unique and delicious (if the budget permits of course). Keep the environment in mind as you choose. Rather than an air-conditioned restaurant, get out of town and try Stush in the Bush for example – which describes itself as a “love story.” If you are in eastern Jamaica, how about Dickie’s Best Kept Secret – also delicious, fresh, healthy food, just outside Port Antonio. I am sure you have to book these, but there are many other restaurants, whether vegetarian, vegan or otherwise, that focus on natural foods, across the island.

If you prefer to stay home, prepare a meal for your partner, using organic produce. You can shop for good, organic produce at Ujima Natural Farmers’ Market at 22 Barbican Road in Kingston. It is open every Saturday from 9:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m.

And gifts? Instead of something made of one form of plastic or the other, think about natural products such as the Live Simple body products and soaps manufactured in Jamaica by Live Ecco.

Ngozi Sweet Blessings, and several others, also do delicious natural, hand-made Soy Candles, Organic Soap, Soy Wax Melts, Body Butters and Oils.

Flowers are a big deal for Valentine’s, of course. If you can buy locally grown flowers and support Jamaican horticulturalists, that would be wonderful. And does it have to be red roses? Most are imported, doused in insecticides, and don’t last long. How about a beautiful locally, organically grown orchid instead? Or a bunch of glorious anthuriums from a nearby greenhouse? Or a potted plant – a much better deal that will last for much longer. Or…buy a tree from Hope Gardens Nursery or elsewhere, and plant it as a symbol of your love. Romantic, eh?

Support your local orchid grower this Valentine’s Day! (Photo: Christopher Serju/Gleaner)

One little note about packaging. There is no point in buying an eco-friendly Valentine’s gift that is swathed in plastic and other disposable wrappings that will go into the dump somewhere (or worse still, if not properly disposed of, into the sea). Please always consider natural, sustainable and/or recyclable packaging rather than synthetic materials. Paper, cardboard and recycled materials can look equally attractive.

I am not a “Valentine’s person” myself, unlike many Jamaicans. However, I wish you a happy, safe and healthy day when it comes. Practice social distancing. Remember curfew starts at 8:00 p.m., wherever you are on the island. Wear your mask, even if around family and friends. And please remember that only ten people are supposed to gather together. If possible, have a “Zoom Valentine,” or just stay home with your “other half” (as I intend to do). Avoid crowds, at all costs!

Oh, and one more thing! Buy Jamaican if you can. Your Valentine deserves better than a plastic import. Support our local entrepreneurs and artisans! Besides which, you will be reducing your carbon footprint…

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