Sustainable Valentine’s

Our emotional and social life, including our romantic relationships, have all been shaped by modern capitalism, neoliberal values and consumer culture narratives . Love is often viewed as an accomplishment, the way we go about finding love is not fundamentally different to the way we shop online or event choose what to watch on streaming services (the one clear difference being that these sites, unlike dating sites and apps, offer product reviews or matching percentages). Valentine’s in many ways is the epitome of this notion- a special day of alchemy where love is transformed into goods presented as gifts and then, if you’re lucky, transformed back to love. However, more often than not we get it wrong (don’t we?), and even when we get it right, we buy unnecessary things, so how do we make Valentine’s more sustainable?   

Not to be a Valentine’s Grinch or anything but it seems like the whole holiday is about shopping. This notion has been addressed in some movies and TV shows where a (single, bitter) character talks about how Valentine’s is a holiday invented by greeting card companies. More broadly, the various ways in which love, romance and our love lives have been commodified have been researched by academics in humanities and the social sciences, like Eva Ilouz. So, leading up to our Valentine’s event (12th February, 2019 at the Love Shack) we explored different ways Valentine’s day could be more sustainable. While in the event speakers addressed social, cultural and health issues, I’ll focus here more on the environmental and ethical shopping aspects of Valentine’s. 

Love sex and sustainability - Valentine's event poster

So actually there are quite a lot of options when it comes to doing Valentine’s more sustainably.When it comes to actual, physical presents, there are quite a lot of options to make them more sustainable and ethical. First of all you can make sure that you’re buying something that your loved one actually wants and will use. Then, you can get things either second hand or from ethical, local, environmental friendly brands. There are a variety of online directories for ethical brands like (this one) or Ethical Brand Directory. More specifically, if you’d like to get wine or chocolate for your Valentine there are London Based producers you could choose from. For wine you have Blackbook WineryRenegade London Wine and London Cru, and for Chocolate the Well-Bean Company and Land. 

Blackbook Winery

You could switch actual gifts for experiences altogether, preferably lower carbon ones. This could be anything from eating at a sustainable restaurant through taking an outdoor workout class together to planting trees or even going on a litter pick. The options are countless. You could also replace the card with a recorded message, or if you’re planning a romantic meal you can use the food to convey your feelings (heart-shaped pancakes would be my choice). 

Chocolate Makers, The Well-Bean Company


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