Updated 11 February 2014

Green your Valentine

Valentine’s Day is notorious for how materialistic it’s become, but you can buck the commercialised roses-chocolates-jewellery trend and still celebrate it in a fun, meaningful way.

Green your Valentine: Tip 1

Give your Valentine a tree from Greenpop: they'll plant it as part of their urban greening and reforestation programme, and also send your love an an e-card with the GPS co-ordinates of the tree, so that he or she will know exactly where it's growing.

The cost of R120 per tree (or R200 for a pair of trees) covers the tree itself, the logistics of planting it, and monitoring it as part of Greenpop's sustainability program.

Green your Valentine: Tip 2

About a billion paper Valentine’s cards are sent annually, which equates to a heavy load of timber, carbon emissions and pollutants. This year, give the trees a break and send an e-card, or make your own as a creative recycling project.

If you do buy a card, find one that’s made from recycled paper (recycled stationery nearly always advertises this fact with pride).

A great innovation are seeded cards: they’re made from waste paper embedded with flower or herb seeds. Your Valentine can plant the used card once she or he is tired of gazing at it, and can look forward to a living bouquet some weeks later.

The company Growing Paper makes seeded cards and other paper products locally. Also nice to know is that they say they reuse the wastewater from the paper-making process for farming activities, their products are printed with waterbased ink, and any part of the product that isn’t plantable is either biodegradable or recyclable.

Green your Valentine: Tip 3

The cut flower industry is a heavy user of pesticides and fuel to transport flowers long distances from source (often a resource-greedy greenhouse) to retail sales points. Deliveries from florists use yet more fuel.

And cut flowers are dead, after all… A living plant is surely far preferable as a symbol of lasting love!

Your local nursery will have plenty of appealing potted plants, and advice on which will flourish best in different settings.

Planting a young flowering tree is another nice idea. Starke Ayres nursery recommends Daiscotinifolia as a Valentine's gift: "an indigenous beauty with soft pink flowers, flowering in summer.

If you do opt for a bouquet, go for locally grown, preferably indigenous, sustainably-harvested blooms. Remember your garden is a very local source too.

Also see Grow your own toxin-filter for a list of air-purifying indoor plants. 

More green gift ideas.

Got a good green tip or event to share? Email me at or post on the EnviroHealth Forum. If it's a planet-saver, we'll publish it.

More EnviroHealth Tips

Olivia Rose-Innes is Health24’s EnviroHealth Editor. Read more of her columns and articles or post a question to her expert forum.


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