A green Valentine’s

My girlfriend's a huge environmentalist, and I'm really broke. Do you have any suggestions for a cheap green Valentine's Day? [rssbreak] A.

My girlfriend’s a huge environmentalist, and I’m really broke. Do you have any suggestions for a cheap green Valentine’s Day?


A cynic would roll her eyes, give you a brief history of Valentine’s Day as a corporate concoction, then tell you to stay in and rent slasher flicks. But I’m not that callous. I was born on this high holiday of Hallmark love-ins, for god’s sake, and I happen to have a soft spot for sugar.

So how can a hopeless romantic, or just a very thoughtful boyfriend/girlfriend/spouse, on a budget impress an earth-lover?

Well, let’s look on the bright side. Your financial situation immediately rules out pricey ethics-marred gifts like diamonds. (And if you did happen to feel that a gem-encrusted heart was the only way to express your love, well, rejoice: most of the affordable sentimental bling out there is fake, so you’d have no blood on your hands.)

Now let’s cover the “don’ts.” Don’t pull a “Well, she’s a practical girl, so maybe I should get her something useful” like a heart-shaped waffle iron or any other useless plug-in appliance destined to end up in landfill.

Not only are these not sexy, but I guarantee that waffle iron is coated with non-stick chemicals (although, hey, nothing says forever like a gift that leaves traces of itself coursing through your bloodstream for decades to come).

Also, don’t snag her a cheap bouquet of flowers on your way home, as so many well-meaning boyfriends do. You don’t want to appear oblivious to the plight of underpaid Latin American women toiling long hours in giant pesticide-laden greenhouses just to supply you with that perfect rose.

If anything, a green girl will be hoping for a fairly traded and ecologically grown arrangement that she can proudly caress without fear of a rash – and those stems are hardly a dime a dozen.

But Eco Flora will make you a gorgeous organic bouquet for as little as, oh, $20. Or buy an achingly symbolic eco-certified single rose from Hatcher Florist for $5.

And don’t reach for an oh-so-clichĂ©d box of conventional chocolates, because – you guessed it – all that cocoa is as morally and environmentally tainted as those roses. Instead, buy a small box of the locally crafted, organic kind from a chocolatier like kakayo.com, lpksculinarygroove.com or delightchocolate.ca for a reasonable price.

Finally, don’t book a fancy dinner out, because, um, you’re broke.

So what can you afford to do that’ll leave her weak in the knees at how planet-savvy and conscientious her main squeeze is?

The truth is, all the best stuff in life is free – and completely carbon-neutral. So for one, screw the tree-razing Hallmark cards (191 million of which are handed out at this time of year) and give your love a hand-written letter – on a piece of recycled paper if you have one lying around, or any old sheet will do.

Got a skill, any skill? Use it! If you play an instrument, sing the girl a love song or two already (even one that someone else wrote). Better at air guitar then the real guitar? Bring back the mixtape vibe and send her your own personal romantic playlist. Good with your hands? Offer up a 20-minute foot rub.

If you have even the slightest ability to make a meal without burning down the kitchen, pull out a cookbook (or head to a free recipe site like epicurious.com or a specialty site like veganchef.com) and map out a dish or two.

No, you don’t need $20-a-pound fish or filet mignon to wow your love. Even the highest-end chefs are workin’ the comfort food theme these days, so a tasty mac ‘n’ cheese, maybe with locally raised goat cheese and aged organic cheddar, is ultra-chi-chi, totally cost-conscious and technically vegetarian.

Who needs big concert tickets or fancy theatre seats when you can do schmaltzy hand-holding stuff at no cost whatsoever, like ice-skating under the stars, tobogganing by moonlight, cuddling by a recycled-coffee fire log (or just a couple of beeswax candles) and other long-walks-on-the-boardwalk-type stuff? All of which are not only romance-boosting but tender on the planet.

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