Make Valentine's day special without the trash and the crass!
OMG, it's Valentine's day tomorrow, I almost missed it! In our house we do 'romantic' everyday so Valentine's is redundant ... well... ok.. so maybe it's not exactly romance that we do, but it works for us, having said that there are never too many days of the year that we can show off our hearts to our beloved. So here are a few odd ideas that might mean you are less of a pollutant and hazard to the future of humankind while you do it.
(I can see your eyes drifting off to the photo, yes, they are çiğ kofte! (spicy vegetarian bulgur mix normally served as hand shaped balls with lettuce leaves. That's as romantic as it get in my house on Valentine's Day!)
Things to do!
1. Cook a fun meal using healthy and favourite ingredients.
Including something silly like make or buy çiğ kofte and make it into hearts like I did.
Or bake a heart shaped cake (this cake was two round ones that I baked then cut into the heart shape)
2. Make a gift or a card or anything that you enjoy doing.
For instance paint a pebble with a heart (that's what I did, see above!)
Cut the letters L O V E or your initials out of paper, board or wood if you have the tools, and paint and display on wall or as table decoration etc.
Write a poem and recite or sing! (nothing better than a dreadful, funny poem to get the love thing going!)
3. Shop thoughtfully considering the waste you produce and the ethics of the product.
Buy seasonal and local produce
Take your own bags.
Buy from shops that sell without packaging.
Take containers even for things like the ready made çiğ kofte rather than use single use packaging.
4. If you will buy a gift buy something local and handmade to support an artist or crafts-person.
5. Buy a plant, but if you insist on cut flowers ensure they are seasonal, local, ethically grown, free trade cut flowers if you can source them.
6. Light candles (beeswax?) and put on some music and enjoy some quiet time with your beloved.
7. Turn your phones off for a few hours (that is the most radical romantic thing most of us can manage these days!)
8. Agree that your gift to each other for Valentine's this year and every year will be some precious time together,
Try THESE 36 QUESTIONS TO LOVE You might need a couple of sessions to go through all these, we did, and it doesn't matter if your relationship is old as the hills, it is still fun to connect from different angles. (The linked article was originally posted in the NYT I believe but they have a subscription pay wall thing so I have found a direct link for you.
If it suits your budget you can plan a trip for later in the year, an experience, maybe you'd like to try scuba diving*, or a forest trek or a weekend of learning permaculture gardening* together.
9. Have a bath or shower together, maybe lights some candles, but try just use solid soap.. remember we are trying to quit the plastic bottles....sorry to distract you... yes... candles.... music maybe... don't electrocute yourself or drop music device in bath!)
10. Go for a long walk together, maybe take a pocket knife and engrave your initials in a park bench, or write them in the sand or grafitti them on a wall.... (DON"T ever engrave in the bark of a tree or paint on them... NEVER! And don't get arrested!)
Things to NOT do!
1. Don't buy rubbish!
By which I mean don't spend money on pointless gifts, does your beloved really need a heart shaped cushion or a diamond ring (does anyone ever need either of those?!)
2. Don't buy balloons. Ever!
3. Don't pick a bunch of wild flowers. The bees need them more than you do. (Unless they are invasive or totally abundant - you don't know? Well maybe that's something you can learn about together!)
4. Don't buy cut flowers unless you can be sure they are free trade etc. Flower farming uses pesticides and they often travel internationally to get to you!
5. If you eat out:
Try finding ecologically conscious eateries in your area that serve local seasonal food, or support a start up (avoid chains, those guys dont need your cash!)
Don't accept a straw in your drinks, carrying your own steel or bamboo one, (that could be your gift idea: reusable straws followed by cocktails at your local) Some people have a physical reason for needing a straw which makes them exempt from this suggestion. Many will say that the straw issue is a distraction, indeed it is, but I also know that small actions lead to bigger things, the straw being the gateway to eco conscious behaviour - so it matters!
6. Eat healthily! Real food and healthy eating will leave you feeling full but not exhausted, the night is yet young! You might want to make a conscious decision about how much meat you eat: I limit the amount I eat having learnt what an impact it has upon the world, maybe you can stick to a vegetarian, local seasonal menu too, which will keep you light for later.
7. Don't buy anything that comes in needless packaging including cupcakes, cosmetics, clothes.... and if you do buy or make a gift, wrap it in something you can reuse like fabric.
8. Don't buy something that supports a multinational company that is detrimental to your interests. Choose local and sustainable instead.
If you are alone then all the better to pick something from the above and treat yourself (and a friend) to a bit of heartfelt, conscientious pampering.
Though Valentine's day reeks of insincerity I urge us all to only ever do what comes from the heart, if you find yourself struggling to feel committed to the feelings behind this day of romance, then well, give it some good thought. However if you'd rather just keep on loving and ignore Valentine's then go ahead!
If the ideas here inspire you to make changes this Valentine's and if your beloved is expecting something of the more ordinary and expected you might want to share this with them so they get on board too (and so they don't dump you!)
Change our habits and keep the love is my message to everyone for Valentine's Day.
And here is the update of 2024
If you read this far thank you, and if you are in the mood for celebrating, and love should always be celebrated (even during ultra commercialised and clichéd times) then I hope the above is useful.
An interesting thing about love is that it's not finite!
I always remember my dad saying that, when he discovered that to be the case after each of his three kids were born.
I also discovered that the more you love your kids the more you love everyone's kids, maybe it's because you know that your children can only really thrive if all the children thrive.
Life is fun when everyone is having fun.
Life is beautiful when it is not being bombed and shot at.
Yes I did just take this there.
How does this relate to the highly clichéd notion of romantic love, well, if you've ever been in love you'll know that most of your feelings drag you into becoming a walking talking cliché, personally I battled against it, but realistically, we are all the same, love is a universal emotion just with variations (of style and connection).
So there are people in love in Gaza today, who will never see their loved one again, or who might, but parts of that person are literally missing.
Let us remember today that the world needs us to truly love, and we need to have that love escalate so that it obliterates hate and indifference and it dissolves the military industry which is breaking our hearts.
Peace and love.
*Diving in Kas
*Permaculture etc in Istanbul