When spoiling your sweetie, swap the grocery store bouquet for something more sustainable

By: Emily Thomson

Ethically sourced flowers and a repurposed card are a sustainable, low-waste Valentine’s Day gift./EMILY THOMSON

Roses are red, violets are blue, gifting green is the right thing to do.

Red roses are synonymous with Valentine’s Day, and a massive contributor to carbon emissions. Imported flowers typically go from field to vase in three to five days, using over 300,000 tonnes of CO2, according to the International Council on Clean Transportation.

Locally grown and fair trade flowers are readily available to Winnipeggers. Floral Fixx, at 1585 Kenaston Blvd, sources its flowers from a cooperative farm in Ecuador that provides medical and dental benefits for its farmers. Manager Miranda Calais says Valentine’s Day costs other farmers two weeks’ worth of revenue to keep up with the demand for roses.

“These farmers have to pick the roses a week before Valentine’s to get them here on time, then pick them again a week after to stagger growth for next year,” says Calais.

“Most of our flowers are locally sourced from farms in Manitoba, which is a much more sustainable option. Anything unable to grow in this climate comes from the co-op in Ecuador.”

The key to sustainability is reducing waste and finding ways to repurpose what we already have, says Colleen Ans, program director at Winnipeg’s Green Action Centre.

“Cards can be unnecessary and usually end up forgotten in a cabinet,” says Ans. “You can find cards made of recycled materials anywhere or make the best of what you have and repurpose an old card.”

Not a DIY-er? Try a card made of plantable seed paper from Botanical Paperworks or design your own e-valentine on Paperless Post.

A heart-shaped box of chocolates may be festive, but most supermarket chocolate does not come from sustainable sources, says the Green Action Centre. Instead, try the fair trade treats at Bulk Barn and bring a repurposed package to keep your gift low-waste.

Environment and Climate Change Canada says Canadian restaurants contribute over nine million tonnes of food waste annually. Try cooking together at home instead of dining out on Valentine’s Day. You’ll be preventing food waste and saving money.

It’s important to note that sustainability doesn’t always come with a higher price tag.

“It isn’t more expensive to be green. You can make your own gift or see if something is available second-hand,” says Ans. “Look for locally sourced items. You’d be supporting a local supplier and often end up with something that’s higher quality.”

Browsing for gifts online? Check out Fairtrade Canada—they have a shopping guide that locates fair trade items based on your location.