My sustainable valentine: Spread the love, not the carbon footprint

Rasa Kaye
February 03, 2020 - 12:48 pm
Forest with heart-shaped canopy

JM_Image_Factory/Getty Images


PHILADELPHIA (KYW Newsradio) — Valentine’s Day may be another widely commercialized holiday, but you can still be green of heart and have some sweet fun without expanding your carbon footprint.

E-cards don’t require any supplies, and there are plenty of sites to find the perfect digital card. But if you’re going for hard copy Valentine greetings, you can make them without buying any new supplies. 

Seriously, you have everything you need already: newspapers, leftover manila folders and cardstock, even buttons or toilet paper tubes.

If you must buy your boo a bouquet, at least make it organically grown. Otherwise, you’re putting your beloved at risk to a whiff of pesticides

Eschewing the marked-up cut flowers for more sustainable, live potted plants can save cash while sparing the planet, too. And the houseplant can really last if you care for it correctly. Isn’t that a beautiful metaphor for love?


Orchids produce long-lasting blooms while cleansing the air. A Valentine’s date to Longwood Gardens’ Orchid Extravaganza is an environmentally-conscious twofer: an inspiring indoor stroll with on-site advice about growing flashy flowers.

You can explore the grounds later — which are still gorgeous in winter — and put some roses in your cheeks. A hearty hike in a less-manicured setting is also a great way to bond and can weigh less on your wallet as well as the planet. Forget the meat-heavy meal at a restaurant, too, and opt for a more active Valentine’s Day.

Our snow-less winter has left habitats exposed with plenty to see on the trails. They’re free to roam year-round at Briar Bush Nature Center in Abington; the Batona Trail in Hammonton, New Jersey; the Rancocas Nature Center in Westampton, New Jersey; the Riverbend Environmental Education Center in Gladwyne; and Tyler Arboretum in Media, among many others. If you haven’t strolled the Philadelphia section of the Schuylkill River Trail either, it’s much less crowded in the winter.

You and your valentine can explore sweetheart-themed events by organizations across the region over the next few weeks, which emphasize natural elements and sustainable practices.

Historic Pottsgrove Manor in Pottstown will demonstrate colonial candy-making on Feb. 8 — you probably have the same ingredients at home already, so go learn how to do it really old-school.

The Schuylkill Center for Environmental Education is hosting a guided Owl Prowl on Feb. 8. It says flashlights or headlamps are recommended — how can you resist such a starry-night romance?

A doubly planet-friendly event: The Vegan Pizza Crawl allows you to try vegan pies across Philadelphia via bicycle on Feb. 9. Proceeds benefit the Lancaster Farm Sanctuary.

Museums are an excellent eco-friendly date, too — strolling around looking at gorgeous art or learning from the displays means you’re consuming information, not stuff. 

The Michener Art Museum in Doylestown hosts an evening exploring love-themed artifacts and documents with the Bucks County Historical Society on Feb. 13. Or, stay in town that night and hit up the Franklin Institute’s event called “Let’s Talk About Sex.” Ahem.

An eerie hike through history explores Philly’s lovelorn past on the Love Never Dies Valentine's Ghost Tour through Society Hill, on Feb. 14 and 15. A portion of the fee supports PhilaLandmarks.

The Woodlands in West Philly is almost an outdoor history museum when you peruse the old gravestones, but it’s also an informal arboretum of more than 700 trees. A guided walk there on Feb. 15 is just the thing to brush up on your flora facts and work off the (hopefully fair-trade) chocolates

We may be low on snow, but we are wallowing in mid-winter weather otherwise in fair Philly. Get away from it — literally — at the Fairmount Park Greenhouse. Getaway at the Greenhouse transforms the venue into five different “rooms” to suit your warm-weather moods: The Beach features an oversized sandbox; The Lawn welcomes daytime picnics on its green grass; The Campground has live music; The Jungle displays a touring artwork featuring detailed NASA imagery of the Earth's surface; and The Midway has food trucks and a cash bar with beer, wine and cocktails. It runs through Feb. 16.