How do Americans say “I love you” on Valentine’s Day? According to statistics, we do it by spending money - and a lot of it!
Here are a few Valentine's Day spending figures to make your heart pound, gleaned from the National Retail Federation’s Valentine’s Day Consumer Spending Survey:
Gift cards - $1.5 billion
Candy - $1.7 billion
Clothing - $2 billion
Flowers - $2.1 billion
Night Out - $3.6 billion
Jewelry - $4.8 billion
Total - $18.9 billion
In terms of sustainability that’s quite a cringe-worthy list, considering all of the paper, cellophane, plastic, empty sugar-laden calories and world-wide slavery all of that represents, most of which is destined to be tossed and forgotten by the next day. I’m going to make an understatement here and say that perhaps we don’t need such excess to communicate our love to one another. Not to be the Valentine Grinch, but if everyone was more aware of this, don’t you think that most people would do it at least a little bit differently?
What about Valentine’s Day in our economy? It’s one of the holidays that retailers count on to help their bottom line. Does that mean that as consumers we have some sort of responsibility (or excuse) to perpetuate such over-the-top waste?
I think not. Given a little bit of thought and creativity, there are certainly ways to avoid participating in thoughtless buying rituals while still observing the delights of Valentine’s Day traditions. When we ourselves step away from the frenzy we become examples for how it can be done. What follows are some easy ideas for making your Valentine’s Day more about love and less about senseless waste.
6 Low-Waste, Sustainable Valentine's Day Gift Ideas
- Instead of a store-bought card, write a heartfelt personal note. (True story--in our family we keep old cards going back many years in a box. On birthdays and holidays, we dig around to find one that fits and give it again! Corny, but fun.)
- Call a friend or loved one and set up a time to get together. Your time is a gift.
- Give a plant or flower bulbs (tulips, daffodils or dahlias) instead of cut flowers.
- Find your jewelry or clothing gifts at a local thrift store. They have a story!
- Give slavery-free chocolate--or a home-baked treat.
- Speaking of home-baked, we have an amazing HEALTHY (really, it is), gluten-free, chocolate cake recipe that's not only a delightful treat but is filled with super nutrients--our Valentine gift to you!
Gluten Free Chocolate Cake Recipe
Chewy Chocolate Ganache Superfood Brownie Cake (Gluten Free and Nutrient Rich!)
- 1/2 cup real butter from grass-fed cows (Kerrygold is a good brand and widely available)
- 1/4 cup of organic coconut oil
- ½ cup unsweetened cocoa powder (a good fair trade brand here)
- 1/2 cup 100% pure maple syrup
- 1 cup almond flour
- ½ cup raw sugar or coconut sugar
- 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 3 eggs ( from your local farmer if possible or buy “pastured” eggs in the store)
- 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and grease a 1.5 QT oven-proof bowl (or you can just use a brownie pan if you don’t want it to be a cake).
Prepare the ganache--Place the butter and coconut oil together in a saucepan and stir until melted. Add ¼ cup of the cocoa powder and maple syrup and stir until all the ingredients are well combined. Let cool
In a bowl, whisk together the almond flour, remaining cocoa powder, baking powder, and salt.
In a separate bowl, whisk together the eggs, sugar, and vanilla.
Combine ⅔ cup of the cooled chocolate and butter mixture with the egg and sugar mixture, setting aside ⅓ cup for later use. Mix into the dry ingredients until just moistened. Bake in the greased 8x8 pan for 30 minutes or until done.
Take out of the oven and after it has cooled briefly, remove the cake from the bowl by turning it upside down onto a plate. While still warm, poke several holes through the top with a something long. (I use a shish kabob skewer). Spoon the remaining ganache over the top one large spoonful at a time so it can seep down through the cake and drip over the sides slowly. Then let it cool completely.
Slice, serve and share the chocolate LOVE!