Gift ideas and things to do with your partner to show them your love! Valentine’s Day is a plight on the environment. Over a billion cards are sent each year, with almost all of them ending up in the landfill — coated in glitter, metallic effects, and laminated in plastic. Hardly recyclable. And that’s just the cards — we spend billions annually on throwaway gifts, like balloons, teddy bears, and decorations, to name a few. But although I try to be as eco-friendly and environmentally aware as possible, I can’t deny the fact that I love Valentine’s Day. So I’ve experimented with a few different ways to have a more sustainable Valentine’s Day over the years, so my partner doesn’t feel left out! I’d also like to clarify here that, while I am in a long-term relationship, and I’m very happy, I’m also an advocate of singledom or self-partnership. You can be your own Valentine. There’s nothing to stop you from loving yourself, and treating yourself to a heartfelt Valentine’s gift. Read on for my favourite eco-friendly Valentine’s Day ideas: 1. Baking What better way to show your Valentine how much you care than by spending an hour or two lovingly baking them some cupcakes? As a bonus, you’ll likely get to eat them, too! Aim to get sustainably-sources ingredients, and your gift is already contributing significantly less to the climate crisis than a plastic-y throwaway item. Plus, baking is a relaxing, cathartic activity, so it’s a win-win gift! 2. Staycation There’s so much to do, everywhere in the world. But it’s easy to forget just how much there is around you, around your home. Instead of flitting off to cliché faux-romantic destinations, why not stay at home? Even if you decide to stay in a hotel close by, you’re still saving on tonnes of carbon emissions than flights. A few years ago, my partner and I decided to stay in a hotel -respectful of our environment — just to get away from work stresses — and we discovered so much to see, so close to us. We probably wouldn’t have gone there on a day trip, but going away for the weekend meant that we felt we were getting a real ‘break’ from it all, and came back feeling refreshed, and more in love than ever. Go on, you deserve it. 3. Houseplants Flowers are so cliché — unless you have a real connection to floristry or gardening, they’re such a cop-out Valentine’s gift. I also think that they’re a pretty horrific metaphor for your relationship. Ultimately, cut flowers die. It’s a fact. A far better gift is a houseplant, or succulent — or, better yet, a tree. Something that will stay alive (with proper care and attention). Something that absorbs carbon dioxide and converts it to oxygen — a fresh breath of air in your life. Do your research, and get a living plant that you feel represents your relationship, your feelings for your Valentine, or even the person themselves. 4. Ditch the wrapping paper We use far too much wrapping paper for presents — Christmas, birthdays, Valentine’s Days, weddings… all year round. Not forgetting the miles of sticky tape. And it all ultimately ends up in the landfill, since most wrapping papers can’t be recycled due to lamination, glitter, or even certain inks. I love wrapping presents, and I love keeping things a surprise, and seeing someone’s face when they open their gift. But we don’t have to give up this lovely tradition — we just have to look at other options. For the past couple of years, I’ve been wrapping gifts using brown paper and natural string (not made from plastic) — that way, the brown paper can be recycled (or, preferably, reused) and the string can be saved for other presents, or reused in another way. That’s a great option to make wrapping presents a bit more sustainable, with much less waste. However, an even better way to wrap your presents is to make the wrapping a gift in itself. Try wrapping gifts in scarves — that way, there’s zero waste, since the scarf is a present, too! Plus, if you try to get a scarf made from natural fibers, that’s even fewer carbon emissions contributing to the climate crisis! 5. No more cards I hate cards. We have cards for every occasion — a new job, new baby, ‘sorry you’re not well, even ‘I just liked this card. We need to axe this tradition, once and for all. As I mentioned at the start of this guide, we send over a billion cards each year to each other. According to GWP Group, one tree can produce about 3,000 cards, which sounds like a lot, but for 1 billion cards, that adds up to over 300,000 trees. 300,000 trees cut down, just so we can tell someone how much we love them. How about, instead, we simply talk to each other? Need to find a way to tell someone how you feel about them. Tell them. 6. Build your skills together Ultimately, the best option for a Valentine’s Day gift, instead of wrapping lots of plastic presents, is to gift experiences instead of physical things. So why not give your Valentine the gift of a new skill? Go together, and learn cookery, baking, and sports— or go really crazy with something like improv classes. The memories from these sorts of experiences last a lifetime, and experiences mean so much more than just another gift. It shows you’ve put real thought into getting them something, and who knows, maybe you’ll find out something new about them. 7. Go out for a meal This is a classic for a reason — just the two of you, just talking. If you’re planning on going out for a meal with your Valentine, consider supporting a local restaurant — that is, not a chain restaurant. Supporting locals not only helps the economy but also, most local restaurants also use local ingredients. That means that your food hasn’t already traveled halfway across the world before it’s on your plate, and doesn’t have a carbon footprint the size of Wales. Do your research, and find somewhere nearby that uses local, sustainable ingredients. 8. Karaoke Definitely one of my favorite ‘romantic’ activities with my partner. I am by no means a talented singer — but that’s not the point of karaoke. The point is to let your hair down and have fun. And if you can’t have fun with your Valentine, then maybe you need to keep looking for The One. Sing some sappy love ballads together — our favorites include ‘I Would Do Anything for Love by Meatloaf, ‘To the Moon and Back by Savage Garden, and ‘She’s the One by Robbie Williams. Just to show you exactly how soppy we can get. Then it’s good to throw in some silly ones because it’s all about having fun — anything that gets you both up and dancing together. 9. Couple’s spa session Perfect for stressed-out Valentines, or just couples who want to relax together. I love this Valentine’s gift because it focuses on the fact that, while you might be there with someone, as a couple, you’re also still your own person, having your own experiences. It’s also worth checking with your masseuse about what sort of oils they use — some use palm oil as a base, which often isn’t sustainably-sources, so it’s worth checking what their attitude is towards the environment. 10. Support your local artists Art is love. Love is art. This Valentine’s Day, why not visit a local art gallery or theatre, to support your local artists and connect in a meaningful way to your Valentine? Some art exhibitions are free, and you’re also making someone else’s Valentine’s day — spread the love! Local theatre is also quite reasonably priced and makes for a much better gift than a cuddly bear holding a heart that will sit on your shelf gathering dust. 11. Stay in Netflix and chill? Plan your evening, so it’s not the same as any other, and enjoy each others’ company. Pick out a board game, choose your favorite movie, order a takeaway, cook a gourmet meal, whatever you want. And, at the end of a romantic evening, your bed is just a few steps away… 12. Have a picnic Okay, so the weather in February often leaves a lot to be desired, but if you get lucky with some sunshine and milder temperatures, pack up some food and drink, pick a picturesque location, and relax, together. Enjoy the beauty nature can offer, and talk about everything under the sun. Just make sure to take any rubbish home with you! 13. Get crafty Nothing is more meaningful than a hand-crafted gift for your Valentine. It shows how much you care, and that you would spend time and effort making them something that reflects how you feel. I still remember one of the first Valentine’s gifts from my partner — a handmade silver (in color) ring, with simple but beautiful heart detail in the center. Naturally, I still have it, and wear it all the time. He’s also a gifted designer, and drew an adorable illustration for me, that we framed and hung in our house — every time I look at it, I get those same butterflies from our first Valentine’s Day. I wish I could say that I’m as talented with homemade gifts as my partner, but, let’s face it: that would be a lie. If you’re like me, and not craftily-minded, get on Etsy and contact your crafty friends to commission something for your Valentine. It’s still homemade! 14. Go stargazing To me, this is the most romantic thing anyone can do for Valentine’s Day. Find somewhere you can both stargaze with as little light pollution as possible, bring some warm drinks and blankets, and snuggle up together. It’s a reminder that, in all of this world, this galaxy, this universe, you are there, at that moment, with your Valentine. Truly together, in a world of infinite possibilities. Those are my tips on how to have a more eco-friendly Valentine’s Day! Explore more of our activities on: Eco-Mauritius Written by Tassia Agatowski
Homemade Bathroom Cleaner Recipes. Are you tired of the solid and chemical odors of bathroom cleaners? Want something green and clean (and cheap) to clean the tile, shower, toilet, and sinks? Have a look at these fantastic homemade bathroom cleaners! Tub and Tile: Standard tub and tile cleaners are strong in chemicals unsuitable for your skin or lungs. Grab a jar and fill it up with: -1 ½ cups of baking soda -½ cup of warm water -½ cup of liquid soap (you can use powdered or flaked too, add more water) -2 tablespoons of white distilled vinegar, or apple cider vinegar Shake well before using and scrubbing the tub. You can even add a little lemon juice or lemon pieces to add a little more acidity to the mixture, which will help to eat away grime with less scrubbing and leave a pleasant fresh lemon scent! Note: this can be stored in a jar, NOT a spray bottle. Toilet Cleaner: It is so easy you won't even need to scrub! All you will need is: 1 can of Cola (Coke / Pepsi etc.) 1 cup of baking soda 1 cup of white distilled vinegar Dump the Cola right into the toilet and let it sit for about ten minutes, then flush. Add the vinegar and baking soda to the toilet, stirring or scrubbing until the mixture stops bubbling. If you have tough stains, you can scrub them, but you should be able to flush them, then walk away! The soda, vinegar, and baking soda mixture will also help keep the pipes clear of buildup! Mirror and Chrome fixture cleaner: Shine up the glass and metal in the bathroom with this super easy mix. Here is all you will need: -newspaper -2 tablespoons of white distilled vinegar -3 cups of warm water Mix the vinegar and water in a spray bottle, spray the surface, then wipe the mirror down with the newspaper. Super simple! DIY Toilet Bomb Cleaner recipe Ingredients: 1 cup baking soda 1/4 cup citric acid 40 drops of essential oils (I like tea tree and lemon) 1-3 tsp. water Add baking soda and citric acid to a mixing bowl and stir well to combine. Add essential oils, one at a time, and mix well after each addition. Slowly sprinkle about 1/4 tsp. Water into dry ingredients, and immediately mix well. Repeat with about two more 1/4 tsp. of water, one at a time, mixing well between each addition, until the mixture is damp enough to hold together when packed, like the perfect, wet sandcastle building sand. Pack the mixture tightly into the mold, pressing corners in well. Allow drying overnight for at least 12 hours. Remove from mold and store in an open container. NATURAL BATHROOM DISINFECTANT CLEANER The bathroom is the number one place to clean and sanitize to prevent the spread of germs. I did some more digging into commercial cleaners and what I found out made my skin crawl more than germs: Manufacturers of cleaning products in some countries do not have to test their products to make sure they are safe for people or the environment. Manufacturers do not have to list all ingredients on the cleaning products label. Overuse of antibacterial chemicals is causing bacteria to become antibiotic-resistant. Some More info about commercial disinfecting cleaners: Bleach and other commercial cleaning products can contain hazardous chemicals and indoor air pollutants (VOCs) that can cause both immediate and long-term health problems- We're talking asthma, hormone disruption, heart disease, cancer, headaches, eye irritation, congestion, and nausea. Homemade disinfectant: 1 – 1 1/4 cup hot water ¼ cup washing soda/sodium carbonate (or baking soda/sodium bicarbonate) 1/2 cup vodka Ten drops of tea tree oil Five drops of Eucalyptus essential oil (optional); Five drops of lavender essential oil (optional); Five drops of rosemary essential oil (optional) Combine hot water and soda in a glass bottle. Shake well to dissolve. Pour vodka and essential oils into the bottle. Shake to combine. When using, wear gloves, spray the area and scrub until very clean. To disinfect, you must mist it again with a cleanser and allow it to remain wet for a few minutes to kill all bacteria. Note: You must rinse well or the cleaner will leave white streaks from the soda. If you want a non-rinse cleaner, you can leave out the soda. These ingredients work because Sodium carbonate (washing soda) is a highly alkaline substance with a pH of almost 12 (on the pH scale that ranges from 0 to 14 ). This high alkalinity means that it is a powerful cleaning agent that can neutralize acidic fluids such as bile and urine and effectively clean other substances such as oils, fats, greases, and proteins. Ethanol is commonly used as an active ingredient in hand disinfectants. Healthcare workers are advised to use alcohol-based hand disinfectants for routine hand disinfection. Most vodkas have a minimum ethanol content of 40%. Tea tree essential oil has a deep herbal scent and is anti-viral, antibacterial, and antifungal. Eucalyptus essential oil has a fresh, slightly medicinal smell and was used in traditional medicine as an antiseptic. It has strong deodorizing properties. The lavender essential oil has a relaxing floral scent with antibacterial and anti-viral properties and has been used to treat fungal infections. Rosemary has a fresh scent that is reminiscent of pine and mint. It has antimicrobial and antiseptic qualities. Note: Use this cleaner on hard, non-porous surfaces, such as floors, walls, bathtubs, tile, and grout. (Check natural stone surfaces with your manufacturer.) Always clean bathroom surfaces and then disinfect. Cleaning vigorously with a cleanser and a microfibre cloth can remove almost as many germs as chemical disinfectants. Allow the disinfected area to remain visibly wet for 5 minutes of sitting/dwell time. This allows the cleaner to kill germs. Sodium carbonate is a skin irritant. Wear gloves when using this cleaning solution. Have any other recipes you would like to share? Send us at firstname.lastname@example.org :)
If you want to do some deep cleaning in your car, you don’t need to buy a bunch of expensive “car cleaners” to do it. In fact, most commercial car cleaners (and most regular cleaners, for that matter) contain plenty of dangerous chemicals you don’t need to be breathing in. Using natural cleaners is safer, healthier AND CHEAPER.