Did you know that the oldest known valentine is a poem that was written by Charles, Duke of Orleans to his wife in 1415 when he was imprisoned in the Tower of London? You can still see it in London's British Library (when we're able to!)
Yes, Valentines Day is just around the corner and most likely, if you're lucky you're locked down with your loved one. So, it's time to get creative! There are so many ways to show you care and do something different on the day, without resorting to plastic wrapped flowers or chocolates. Here in the UK we spend £1 billion on Valentines Day gifts and about 6 million couples get engaged, so the pressure is always on to deliver!
We traditionally spend our money on cards, food and drink (chocolate & champagne), jewellery, flowers and clothing, which can all take their toll on the environment. Especially when brands do stupid things like sell a heart-shaped plastic ball with 'nothing' inside - tbt Poundland in 2019.
Whilst we're all about sustainable celebrations here at ZWG and we don't really buy into commercial holidays, the world needs a little love more than ever these days. The rise of trends like 'galentines' - giving gifts to your girlfriends, has meant the spouse-only offerings is not the only way to spread the love.
Here's our pick of Valentines Day activities that are great for you and the planet.
1. Cook a dinner (virtually or together)
Yes, I know you've been cooking every day since November, but why not get something special. Make it fancy by ordering produce you might not otherwise try like like an ancient grain risotto.
Or, if you're super short on time/energy why not order a plant-based box scheme like Allplants? It's made by Chefs so you can get a quality plant based meal without the hassle, simply bake in the oven and you're ready to go. Or order a private cooking lession from a trained chef online for £35 with The Little Surprises Company and make a Mozambique-inspired showstopper.
2. Do a jigsaw swap
We've done all the jigsaws in the house twice already, so why not pair up with a friend, sibling or neighbour and swap boxes. Be sure to leave a few days between sharing puzzles so as to eliminate the risk of transmission. Don't fancy that, why not get a beautiful chess set from Hoyles of Oxford and binge watch The Queen's Gambit (if you've not already seen it)!
3. Movie night
Classic. Rent a move (or several) and move the sofa into prime position. Pop some popcorn in the microwave, crack open a box of Malteasers (easier to recycle!) and have a good ole snuggle. Or, have a watch party with other couples and 'meet up' virtually afterwards for drinks to discuss.
4. Comedy Night
Extend your Valentines Day by three days and sit down for some live virtual comedy. We have attended ourselves - twice! And been blown away by the quality and generally had a great old time. At £10 a ticket it's both a fun and affordable way to have some giggles with your guy/gal/person.
5. A Jar Of Love
Make a cute keepsake from an upcycled jar and fill it with love notes. Write your messages on small bits of paper, fold them up and pop them in the jar. You can offer romantic wishes, tasks you'll perform (making breakfast or doing the washing for a week), activities to do together, places you'll go when this is all over or even memories you've shared that mean a lot. Super cute!
(Image from womansday.com where they share 45 other cute crafty ideas for all the family).
6. Order some sustainable wine and get tasting
Splash out on a few bottles of the good stuff to go with a special meal and watch some videos about wine tasting for good measure! The popularity of sustainable wine is growing by the year, with savvy customers opting for vegan, organic or biodynamic wines. These are not only great for the planet but are devoid of nasty preservatives, so even if you go a tad overboard you're likely to find your head doesn't suffer quite so much. We love Sea Change Wines and Garçon Wine for their innovative approaches to packaging and environmental integrity.
7. Share your favourite books or songs
A lovely way to pass the time is to tell each other about your favourite books or share new music you've discovered. Reread passages that felt meaningful or interesting to you or play your favourite tracks and take an interest in how your partner responds. You can even progress to starting your own book club (again you could include other couples) and select a book to read over the coming weeks before regrouping to share your thoughts. Being interested in the small things we take for granted about our partners is a fun, simple and free way to reconnect.
8. Build Your Own Gift Box
Create something meaningful for the both of you and put together a gift box. You can choose timeless items like picture frames with your favourite portrait, add some plastic-free chocolate, a soy-base candle, bath salts, some massage oil and you're good to go! Or you can look on our website and pick a pre-made gift box like our Coffee Break Box, Calm Box or Detox Box. Great for him, her or they/them!
9. Make your own chocolate-dipped coconut macaroons
Straight up chocolate-making can be a bit daunting, so why not keep up the baking trend instead and try out these macaroons. The recipe has been perfected by zero waste vegan chef Max La Manna and uses only a handful of ingredients. The star being aquafaba, the water from canned or soaked chickpeas that would normally get chucked, but in this recipe it takes centre stage. A fun activity and tasty treat in one!
10. Cocktail making class
If you're looking for something a bit different, why not book a cocktail-making class? Classes happen every Friday and Saturday evening (7:30-9pm) and you get to make x4 cocktails across the session, with the particular spirit used changing each week. Get in touch with The Little Surprises Company to find out what's coming up and book your session.
Well there you have it! 10 great ideas to make Valentines Day special without the waste! Which one is your favourite?