Valentine's Day Thoughts...
Some Valentine's food for thought. Five things to consider to make your Valentine's Day inclusive, sustainable, and sensitive to mental wellbeing.
1. Make the environment your one true love
Who doesn’t love a beautiful bunch of flowers on Valentine’s Day? Or some chocolates and a bottle of wine? Or even just a card? THE ENVIRONMENT DOESN’T! Valentine's Day traditions can be environmentally irresponsible, and since we have a climate emergency on our hands, we need to be thinking of new, sustainable ways to give gifts to loved ones.
Take the US for example, only around one-third of cut flowers sold are grown domestically, and most of the roses bought are flown in from Colombia and Ecuador. In the lead up to Valentine’s Day, American companies use huge cargo planes filled with flowers to fly around 30 shipments into the country every day. The carbon footprint for these flowers is huge! Plus, we should be planting instead of cutting down.
These cut flowers only last a week. Their plastic packaging will be sent to a landfill and it will be as if they never sat in your hallway. Billions of cards given contribute to deforestation, similarly ending up in landfills. Unless you keep them for sentimental purposes, it is wasteful.
Top tips for a Green Valentine's:
- Maybe give your Valentine a pouch of seeds or bulb that can be planted.
- Make your own cards out of reclaimed paper, or buy cards made from recycled materials.
- Check your chocolate is fairtrade and your wine is made sustainably.
- Maybe even switch out a steak-meal for two for a veggie alternative.
Whatever you decide to do, your Valentine’s gesture will seem even more thoughtful if it is made with the environment in mind.
2. Think of single people!
Valentines Day can make single people feel inadequate. Our culture leads us to believe that we can only be truly happy if we are in a relationship. Just look at any rom-com, ever. Women are especially made to feel powerless, waiting for a knight in shining armour, or Richard Gere to turn up in a limo, and sweep us off our feet. If he doesn’t turn up, self esteem can plummet.
Let’s look after our own mental wellbeing this Valentines Day, without relying on others to pick us up.
Top tips for singles:
- Stay off social media (there are too many smug couples and you may scroll past your ex and his new girlfriend)
- Do something for yourself! Self love is so important.
- Have fun with other single people. Being single is no better or worse than being in a relationship. It’s just different!
3. Think of those who have lost loved ones.
Valentines Day can be difficult for those who have previously lost partners.
Metro writer Olivia Meheux describes Valentines Day as a widower:
“It still stings to see heart-shaped displays in shops, to know that I can’t send him a card, to think of all the Valentine’s Day posts I’ll see on social media, to know that on a day when others will experience romance, I will experience sadness.”
It is important to be sensitive to those going through difficult times on any holiday or celebration. Older communities particularly will suffer from loneliness and lost loves. Including older relatives and friends in plans is all the more important today.
Support others and reach out to those who cannot celebrate with their loved ones.
4. Champion unconventional love!
Valentine’s Day is constructed with a very stereotypical idea of love in mind: a man and a woman who live happily-ever-after. In other words, a patriarchal type of love. But love can appear in many different forms.
The traditional romance formula excludes minorities. LGBTQ+ people may feel alienated by conventional Valentine’s expectations. As may racial minorities, or disabled communities. Anyone who is not a white, heterosexual, Julia Roberts lookalike may find stereotypical Valentine’s culture offensive, or just plain irrelevant.
So let’s be inclusive. Let’s change the face of Valentine’s Day. Make your own version of love visible. You don’t have to be a part of any traditions that could make you feel less powerful. Inclusivity and diversity needs to become culturally mainstream.
5. Avoid putting too much pressure on relationships
Ironically, Valentine’s day can cause relationship problems. Couples are conditioned to expect the ‘perfect’ day, no less romantic than Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan embracing on the top of the Empire State Building. These expectations are rarely met, putting relationships under strain.
Why do we have to buy expensive gifts to show our love for someone? And why is the celebration of love restricted to one day a year? Telling someone you love them, and showing them every day how much you care is worth a thousand roses (unless they are Roses chocolates).
Don’t feel pressured to be a ‘perfect couple’ or find the ‘perfect man’- we all know that there is no such thing.
Protect your own wellbeing today and spread the love.
By Grace Proctor
Content Editor, Let's Reset.