By Amanda Wills on Jan 31, 2011

For Valentine's Day, Try This


The amazing (and sometimes frustrating!) thing about Valentine’s Day is that it means something different to almost everyone. For those hard-to-shop-for loved ones, try some of these creative eco ideas and have a low-waste V-Day.

Permanent (Non-Tacky) Flowers

Wooden flowers never wilt! These birch wood petals are by Etsy user AccentsandPetals and sells for $25 for 160 pieces.

Beautiful blooms are a traditional way to express affection on Valentine’s Day, but due to the fact that V-Day lands in the middle of winter, they often don’t last very long. What a waste after (typically) traveling thousands of miles to your door.

While there are great organic options for cut flowers (Organic Bouquet is a great option), they do eventually end up in the trash (unless your beloved composts, of course!). Try a bouquet that will never die. We’re not talking tacky silk flowers, but pretty bunches made from wood and other biodegradable materials.

Wooden Flowers
This lovely handmade birch flower can be dyed to any color you like. Or, check out this collection of sweet roses made from shaved birch wood in a natural color.

Wearable Blooms
A wearable bloom made from fabric is be perfect for the flower-loving gal who’s always on the go.

Paper Buds
Paper flowers can brighten up a room and will last for years. A collection of origami roses or white embossed paper flowers in a bunch – or even singularly – make a beautiful, long-lasting gift. These flowers have wires in each petal so they are adjustable – perfect for flower-arrangers.

Organic Sweets For Your Sweetie

Photo: Flickr/Mindmatrix

The connotation between the sweetness of Bonbons and your Valentine are easy to make, even for the less poetic among us. But in addition to the calories (and post-gorge guilt), most chocolate sold on Valentine’s Day is made from low-quality cocoa that’s not healthy for the planet or people.

Quality, Fair Trade chocolate usually contains fewer calories because less sugar is added; the cocoa used is so flavorful, it doesn’t need much added to it. The Fair Trade choice supports workers in third-world countries.

Divine and Green and Black’s are two companies that make exquisite choccies in a variety of flavors, and are available at most health food stores, many regular supermarkets and Whole Foods nationwide.

Love Jewelry? Skip the Mall

Simple, romantic and affordable. This wooden necklace made by Etsy user Artisian Tree sells for just $6.

While the materials sound hippie, we promise they’re chic. Ethical jewelry, whether made from natural materials like tagua nuts or wood, is an ever-growing category.

Chunky and Trendy
Muichic produces colorful, geometric pieces from natural materials from Columbia. The Andean Collection works with South American rainforest natives to collect and color their baubles.

Re-purposed and Lovely
Small artisans like Orfraie and Artisan Tree feature handmade pieces from wooden materials. Kirsten Muenster’s one-of-a-kind pieces are made from recycled metals, found objects and personally-sourced semi-precious stones are unique and gorgeous.

Shiny and Ethical
For serious (ethical) bling, check out Brilliant Earth, where you can create your own conflict-free diamond ring or choose from their selection. Ruff and Cut offers high-end and very cool diamond and gold pendants, rings and men’s pieces, too. Best of all, 10 percent of proceeds go to support nonprofit partners.

Dining In: No Reservation Needed

Don’t wait in line at that overpriced Italian restaurant. Make a reservation for two at your own dinner table. Photo: Amanda Wills, Earth911

If this hasn’t been the easiest year for you financially, you’re not alone. Regardless of income, making dinner for someone you love is a wonderful way to show them that you care.

This vegetarian appetizer recipe (below) for Eggplant Caviar is easy on the earth, inexpensive, easy to make and compostable, too. It’s just a bit of food for thought and a place to start; check out this veggie menu for extra options.

RECIPE: EGGPLANT CAVIAR
Adapted from “The Mediterranean Vegan Kitchen” by Donna Klein

Ingredients:
2 medium globe eggplants (large eggplants tend to be bitter, hence the use of medium)
2 large cloves of garlic
1 medium onion, peeled, left whole with skin intact
2 tablespoons of extra-virgin olive oil
2 tablespoons of fresh lemon juice
1 tablespoon of tomato paste
1 teaspoon of balsamic vinegar
1/8 teaspoon of cayenne or to taste
Salt and freshly ground pepper, to taste
Assorted raw veggies, toasted baguette rounds, breadsticks to serve

Directions:
1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.

2. With the tip of your knife, pierce the eggplants all over. Cut a slit in the fattest part of the eggplant and insert one garlic clove in each.

3. Rub the eggplants and the onion with one tablespoon of the olive oil. Roast the eggplants and onion on a baking sheet for about 40 minutes or until the eggplants are collapsed and the onion brown. Turn the veggies frequently while roasting.

4. Cut the eggplants lengthwise and drain on several layers of paper towels, cut side down. When cool enough to handle, strip off the skin and cut the flesh into four quarters. Quarter the onion, then put the eggplant and onion into a food processor.

5. Add the rest of the oil, the lemon juice, tomato paste, salt, pepper and cayenne. Process until very smooth. Taste and adjust seasonings to your liking. Refrigerate in a covered bowl.

Related articles
Green Your Love Life
8 Ways to Green Your Dinner Party
Cooking For Compost: Dinner


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