Dear Eartha, how can I show my love for the planet this Valentine’s Day?
Valentine’s Day isn’t the only thing that heats up the month of February. Just like climate change. Projections from the Rocky Mountain Climate Organization show that by 2050, nearly 25% of Summit County winter days could have high temperatures above freezing, up from 12% from 1970 to 1999.
Warmer Februarys would mean less fluffy powder we all love and more wet, heavy snow. Even scarier? The potential for winter rain instead of snow. Let’s help extend our winters and our love for the planet with some Valentine’s Day tips.
We like to buy things
Valentine’s Day is, like many other holidays, all about physical gifts. Yet many of these donations come with environmental costs. Take the example of roses: almost all of the roses that American buyers buy for Valentine’s Day are flown in from Colombia and other parts of South America. According to the Washington Post, in the three weeks leading up to February 14, 30 cargo planes travel daily from Colombia to Miami, with each plane carrying more than a million flowers. When the roses land in Miami, they are loaded into approximately 200 refrigerated trucks and transported daily to warehouses in South Florida. From there, they are assembled into bouquets and then shipped throughout the country.
What is the carbon footprint of this? Shipping all those roses for Valentine’s Day is 22,680 metric tons of CO2 over a three-week period. This figure represents almost 4% of Summit County’s carbon emissions in 2020! And that doesn’t include the trucking footprint from Miami to Colorado and beyond.
So consider skipping the roses and ask your local florist to create a bouquet with flowers they have in abundance, or ask about seasonal varieties produced closer to you. This can help reduce waste and the environmental cost of transportation.
Get off the beaten track
Showing more love for the planet could include moving away from our traditions of roses and other material things and focusing on experiences.
Maybe it’s planning a romantic dinner, gifting a pampering day, or finding an adventure for two. For any romantic experience, check out the many local businesses that participate in the High Country Conservation Center’s Resource Wise sustainable business program. The Green Business Directory on HighCountryConservation.org will provide a list of local restaurants, retail stores, and wellness services that are actively reducing their waste, limiting their energy use, saving water, and making more sustainable choices. Resource Wise companies are getting creative to reduce their footprint while delivering quality products and experiences.
Getting away from material things can also look like acts of service. It could be as simple as taking out the trash (and recycling)! Acts of service can also include volunteering together. Finding a shared passion project to take on together is the perfect way to connect with someone while caring for the community. There are many organizations looking for volunteers. Discover 1 Degreea new platform to link you to information about nonprofits in Summit County where you can volunteer.
Make the Earth your valentine
From December wildfires in the Front Range to below-average snowpack in the Colorado River Basin, it is clear that our Earth is not getting the love it deserves. Our precious planet needs us to use this holiday (and every day) to spread love, not unnecessary trash. Making Valentine’s Day more sustainable and acting on the climate will be the best gift for Valentine’s Day and for the future of our loved ones.
“Ask Eartha Steward” is written by the staff of the High Country Conservation Center, a non-profit organization dedicated to waste reduction and resource conservation. Submit your questions to Eartha at firstname.lastname@example.org.