A Happy and Sustainable Valentine’s Day!
Many of us will be consuming and gifting chocolate, wine, flowers and cards to celebrate this day but did you know that every one of these products can be purchased or presented in a sustainable way?
Chocolates are an indulgence enjoyed by many and among its many benefits is its ability to enhance moods which is probably why we enjoy gifting it on Valentine’s. Chocolate history reveals that chocolate drinks provided energy and enhanced creativity and most recently dark chocolates are found to contain antioxidants which protect our health.
So can you really buy sustainable chocolates? Of course, sustainable chocolates are recognized through a Fair Trade process. Fair trade offers farmers a fair price, allows farmers to invest in sustainable techniques, and prohibits child and slave labor. Chocolates may also be certified organic which means that no synthetic pesticides or fertilizers were used in its production.
The National Confectioner’s Association Valentine’s Sales Summary for 2013 reported sales of $1.013B in candy, a gain of 2.2% over sales in 2012. The 2013 National Retail Federation Holiday Consumer Intentions and Action Survey revealed that 51% of people will buy candy for Valentine’s Day, flowers (37%), and greeting cards (55%). Clearly, candy does make our life sweeter.
Flowers may be the cliché Valentine gift but for the eco-conscious consumer, you can score a lot of points without breaking the bank. From your local florist to online stores, there are budget friendly options that are sustainable and organic. Of course, you can also be creative by thinking outside the flower box by gifting fruit arrangements, nut baskets, potted plants or fruit trees.
Many mainstream vendors like 1-800 Flowers or FTD offer organic, Fair Trade and eco-friendly bouquets. It’s easier to search for these options as many of these companies are responding to consumer needs and new start-up companies like Organic Bouquet specialize in these services. Other certifications for the cut flower industry include Veriflora and Rainforest Alliance. Veriflora is an agricultural sustainability certification and eco-labeling program for floriculture and horticulture industries while Rainforest Alliance recognized as “the frog” also certifies ferns and cut flowers through its sustainable farm certification program.
Organic wine labeling can be complicated since you have to certify both the growth of grapes and the conversion of grape to wine. Organic wine is made without using prohibited substances or genetic engineering and must meet the USDA organic certification requirements. Organic wine is also overseen by USDA National Organic Program and the Alcohol and Tobacco Tax and Trade Bureau, especially for sulfite labeling requirements. Wine naturally produces some sulfites which can stop the fermentation process or preserve the wine flavor but sulfites cannot be added to organic wines.
Wines may also be labeled and sold as “made with organic grapes” and these wines have different requirements but most importantly, 100% of those grapes used must be certified organic. Though the consumption of organic wines has increased, there is still a perception that organic wines are lower in quality and flavor.
So this Valentine’s Day, be sure to keep an open mind as you search for the perfect gift for those special people in your life. Your eco-conscious choices will brighten faces, conserve resources, and celebrate sustainability.