It’s Valentine’s Day, and for many gift givers, chocolates, teddy bears, and flowers are the usual suspects at the top of the list.
And, there are also more sustainable alternatives for the environmentally conscious.
At The RE Place, a sustainable living store on Danforth Avenue, customers can find a variety of products to show their love and appreciation to their beloveds, like plantable seed-paper cards.
These recycled paper cards are embedded with different wildflower seeds, and can be planted in the ground after the recipient has enjoyed them.
Valentine’s Day is the second largest card-giving holiday after Christmas, according to cardmaker Hallmark. Many cards are covered in glitter and wrapped in plastic, both of which are impossible to recycle.
“Show the earth that you love her too, and that’s the way you can lead by example,” said Sarah Robertson-Barnes, low-waste living expert and creator of the blog Sustainable in the Suburbs.
Robertson-Barnes shared a few tips and tricks anyone can use on Valentine’s Day. An example would be taking a mason jar and filling it up with various candies and chocolate from a bulk store like Bulk Barn. This will automatically reduce the amount of plastic used.
Robertson-Barnes believes that in a culture of convenience, people are trained to behave like consumers, and everyone needs to take a step back from that and reduce.
She said “sustainability takes time.” And sustainable living can mean reducing plastic and overall waste both during holidays and in everyday life.
“Investing in something sustainable, ethically sourced requires you to have the mindset of, you know, having it for a long time,” Mira Vuletic, founder of The RE place, said.
The RE place has found different ways to promote sustainable options, such as their “Buy 1 Get 1 Free February” promotion, which runs until Feb. 28.
Other places in the East York area that provide sustainable alternatives are the Bare Market on Danforth Ave. and the Leslieville Farmers Market on Greenwood Ave.
But while a collective effort by individuals helps, bigger corporations have to be involved in the change too, a professor who studies sustainability said.
“There is a danger that a focus on individual behaviour change can amount to blaming the victims and letting the larger actors in the system off the hook,” wrote Professor John Robinson from the University of Toronto in an email to the Toronto Observer.
“We must also focus heavily on collective behavior change at the institutional level,” he said. “And not feel that the whole burden of the problem is on our shoulders.”