Although a great day to celebrate love in the world, Valentine’s Day along with other holiday’s have been known to generate so much waste! Don’t get me wrong, I love celebrating Valentine’s day and making the people around me feel special. In fact, it is one of my favourite days for that exact reason, but the waste that comes along with it is quite unpleasant. This day alone sells 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolates, all to be thrown away on February 15th, and produces 1 billion commercially made cards each year. Not to mention all sorts of other plastic garbage with decorations, wrapping, take out food and so on. 

Our present day ideas of celebrating Valentine’s Day date back to the 1500’s, where formal messages to express emotions began to gain popularity. By the 1800’s, Valentine’s Day cards were being produced commercially and had made their way to North America.  Now, the day is often enjoyed with more than just cards including flowers, boxed chocolates, plastic confetti, stuffed animals and more. 

On average we are 25-30% more wasteful during holidays, Valentine’s day included. If you are looking to celebrate holidays by creating less of an environmental impact, these tips, crafty ideas, and Valentine’s gifting guide is for you!

Tips to Celebrate Valentine’s Day Zero Waste
Recycled Valentine’s Cards
Valentine’s Gifting Guide

Tips to Celebrate Valentine’s Day Zero Waste

If you’re not usually crafty, you’re probably reading this and thinking “I can’t make something nice”. I encourage referring back to the saying, it’s the thought that counts, because with Valentine’s Day, it really is! Handwritten notes and handmade cards are great additions to baked goods or small gifts for that special someone. It doesn’t have to be just notes either, think about things you might be good at… painting, wood work, baking, cooking, or perhaps even choosing to purchase a handmade gift made by someone else if you really do not want to make it yourself. 

Instead of generic heart shaped candy in a box or balloons that only last a few days, choose a gift that lasts and is useful! Think spices and recipe books for someone who loves to cook, a virtual or in person class to do together, or locally made tea or coffee and a nice pair of sustainable socks to make the weekend extra cozy! Lastly, if you have a dog lover in your life, handmade dog treats for the friend who just loves their pup could be a unique and thoughtful choice!

Shopping locally really is an important aspect of lowering carbon emissions. Local businesses also need our help in the world right now, so why not support them on a day meant for spreading love. Local coffee shops are great examples of businesses that are perfect to support on Valentine’s Day.  

Commercially bought flowers for Valentine’s day creates one of the highest carbon emissions due to the long distances the flowers travel to get to stores. They are often grown with many types of pesticides that run off into natural environments as well. One of the best alternatives to cut flowers is a real live plant, one that can be enjoyed year round! Another alternative is to seek out local florists who may be either growing their flowers themselves or sourcing them from local growers. Terrarium kits are also a fun spin on buying plants, as it can be something you can work on together. 

Instead of a physical gift, why not give an experience for you and the gift receiver to enjoy together. This could include a wine tour, at home movie date, brewery visit, escape room, art workshop, terrarium building workshop, Cactus Cafe visit, cooking class, virtual yoga, Zoo or science center memberships, ski passes or even virtual chocolate tastings. 

Recycled Valentine’s Cards

A fanned heart card, heart made of maps, toilet paper roll printed hearts, and recycled magazines!

There’s nothing more genuine that says you care like a homemade card (no matter how crafty you are)! Making handmade cards from recycled materials is a great way to keep your Valentine’s waste to a minimum.  Below I have outlined some simple ideas for cute cards that are easy to create, even for someone with limited artistic skills! I have also included a list of some possible paper products that can be repurposed in projects like this! 

Materials for Recycled Cards

  • Newspaper
  • Scrap construction paper
  • Magazines 
  • Maps
  • Junk mail
  • Toilet paper rolls for stamping
  • Seed paper confetti
  • Cotton or wool yarn scraps
  • Paint test colour cards
  • Old Valentine’s cards
  • Used tissue paper or old wrapping paper
  • Old puzzle pieces
  • Scrap cotton fabric and wool yarn
A card made from an old map and a rice paper envelope. Seed paper also makes for great heart shaped confetti for a little surprise inside a card!

I have a habit of always keeping old cards and envelopes. They really come in handy when making new cards. If you still have envelopes around from Christmas cards, many of them might be red in colour and perfect for repurposing. Other ideas for card making could include seed paper cards, painted cards, tree cookies, or even bookmarks! 

Hearts printed using paint and a toilet paper roll, pinched into a heart shape

Valentine’s Gifting Guide!

Fun treat Alternatives

  • Gifting fruit with cheesy puns “You’re the apple of my eye”, “Orange you glad we are friends”, or “We’re quite the pear”, for example. 
  • Melted heart shaped crayons
  • Socks
  • Jenga – personalized with small notes
  • Seed balls made into the shape of hearts
  • Pancake breakfast
  • Candied popcorn

Sustainably Focused Gifts

  • Potted plants or flower seeds
  • Tea or coffee from a local shop
  • Reusable mug or straw set
  • Vegan Recipe books
  • Beeswax wraps
  • Sustainable chocolate
  • Natural dye tie-dye kit


  • packaging free lotion or lip balm bars
  • Beard balm or oils
  • Bath salts or heart shaped bath/shower balms
  • Layered cookies in a jar (could add a heart shaped cookie cutter too!)
  • Layered hot chocolate in a jar
  • Jar cakes
  • DIY heart shaped rice hand warmers
  • Dog treats
  • Chocolate covered cherries
  • Chocolate Valentine’s bark

However you choose to celebrate this day of love, don’t forget to show the planet some love too. 

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