Green Valentines Day
10-Feb-2018


Valentine’s Day is in few days time. The day is celebrated with great fervor and enthusiasm worldwide where young people exchange special cards, gifts and chocolates celebrating at selected locations and showing their affection and love to their partners and friends.

Valentine’s Day is a multibillion-dollar industry. Shopping centers and malls are filled with red colored roses, unique flowers and many type of specialized gifts. In addition, special chocolates are made along with celebrity food and soft drinks are also consumed. It is estimated that over one billion valentine cards are sent globally which when laid end to end would stretch around the world five times. Over 36 million V- boxes of chocolates are sold each year. All of the products purchased and consumed cause more carbon dioxide emissions than driving around the entire world almost 4,000 times. While the V -day activities may be casual or formal, yet it has a great impact on the environment in terms of generation of Green House Gases and huge quantity of waste generated, which has to be stored, transported and disposed. 

If you are celebrating this V- day, do it in an environmental friendly manner not to cause any harm to our finite and fragile resources and causing any type of pollution to air, water and soil. Let us avoid paper, cards, envelopes, cardboard, boxes, wrappings, bags, ribbons and other decorative items etc. We can adopt and use alternatives, instead of buying and sending cards with envelopes, use e-cards, emails and messages. This will save a lot of paper, trees and water and will avoid air, water and soil pollution. Papermaking uses tons of toxic chemicals and also emits pollutants that contribute to acid rain and global warming. In addition, considerable landfill space will be saved due to disposal of these materials, once disposed.

Cards can also be made with recycled paper but even paper recycling can add to pollution due to the sludge produced during the de-inking process. We can also recycle the cards and exchange the same Valentine’s Day card next year with some difference, if it is to be used. 

Instead of buying a card, we can spend some time and make card of our own. Taking the time and effort to make a card shows we care, saves money, and helps reduce waste around our home. 

Around 15 billion trees are cut down every year, lowering the global tree count. The risk of deforestation is alarming and not worth sending a card to say something you could easily say in another form. Instead of giving Cut Roses, trees and House Plants can be gifted, which has the natural ability to clean pollution and helps to fight climate change. Many common houseplants act as an air purifier, removing toxins from the air we breathe. They are known to produce oxygen from CO2 and they absorb toxins including benzene (gasoline, inks, oils, paints, plastics and rubber), formaldehyde and/or trichloroethylene (printing inks, paints, lacquers, varnishes and adhesives).

Gifts are an essential for the day. We can show our loved one how much we care by making a gift instead of buying one. Everyone loves a gift, but receiving a handmade one will have more of an emotional value. This could save money and reduce waste by removing the need for excessive packaging. While giving gifts, natural perfumes and fragrances and items of household use can also be
given.

Gift wrappers are other item of concern. If you receive a gift wrapped in a sheet, don’t rip it up. Save the paper for another occasion, use yesterday’s newspaper or magazine as an alternative to wrapping paper. Avoid using fancy candles especially in the bedroom as burning petroleum-based candles can actually diminish the air quality in a room.

Happy V-Day. Celebrate the Valentine ’s Day as a zero waste day and in a green manner. 

 

Head of Waste Disposal Unit, Supreme Council for Environment, Bahrain. (rahmed@sce.gov.bh) 


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