Many of the flowers sent this Valentine’s Day will have been picked by women and children in South America that are forced to work and often abused. An estimated 20% of cut flower workers in Ecuador are children. The environmental impact is also large, most of these flowers are being shipped in and many have been grown using chemicals like DDT and methyl-bromide, which are banned in the US.
Another favorite Valentine’s Day gift is chocolate. Around 70% of the world’s chocolate comes from the Ivory Coast where much of the chocolate is farmed using forced labor and child labor. Workers are often forced to work in unsafe working conditions and abuse is common place.
You have likely heard about blood diamonds or conflict diamond, diamonds that are used to fuel horrible wars in Africa. While these are becoming less common, conflict metals are still pretty common. Metals and diamonds that aren’t fueling wars may still be causing environmental harm due to poor mining practices.
All of this may sound like there is no way to enjoy Valentine’s Day without harming others and the environment but that’s not true. When looking for flowers look for Fair Trade certified flowers or choose a locally grown plant. With chocolates look for Fair Trade and organic brands, there are a lot of choices and many stores carry at least a few options. And with jewelry look for recycled and vintage pieces or check out the store Brilliant Earth for other more ethical and eco-friendly options. Doing these simple things can make for a very happy Valentine’s Day without harming others or the plant!
About the Author
Lisa Sharp is passionate about green living, organic food, animals, and natural medicine. She is an environmental activist, green living expert, and consultant. In addition to being the founder and editor of Green Oklahoma, Lisa has a green living blog, Retro Housewife Goes Green. You can follow Lisa on twitter @Retrohousewife5 and Facebook.