How to Impress Your Valentine’s Date — Without Emptying Your Wallet

Heads up guys, it’s February.  This means you’ve got limited days and moments within the day to brainstorm some lovely evening/activity/meal/gift/what-have-you to sweep your certain someone off their feet.  Now, I’m not going to tell you that you shouldn’t do any of the above – and if you do “not” do any of the above, you cannot use this blog as your excuse.  However, I’m definitely going to tell you that the typical approach to Valentine’s Day is not only insanely expensive, it’s pretty darn tough on the environment, and I’d highly advise you to try something new this year.

While driving the dreaded 55 in Southern Cali not long ago and in an attempt to fend off road rage, I tuned into a local station, upon which the discussion was the cost of first dates.  The average is now over $100 dollars folks.  I didn’t even believe it, so I had to come home and do some Google searches for some research.  It’s true!  If that doesn’t sicken you, well then, I don’t know what to tell you, other than, oh, by the way: the majority of that $100 went to nothing more than an average dinner (at a non-environmentally friendly restaurant), an average movie and consisted of driving in the car to two separate venues.

Now, this is $100 on an average first date.  You translate that to Valentine’s day: let’s say $125 for a “classier” dinner/movie and add in some flowers + $26 (probably not organic, and probably grown on some mega farm where the economic footprint is outlandish), maybe even some chocolate + $10 (again, organic? free trade? doubtful), and say, a card (let’s not even get started on the paper waste of V-day cards in just a year) +$3.96.  This would be bottom line basic date, right?  Total = $164.96.

It’s 2011!  Here’s a “how-to-impress your date guide” without emptying the wallet and maybe even doing something good for the earth and air while you’re at it.

Green (and Inexpensive) Ideas for Valentine’s Day

Green Classes: Sign you and your date up for a green class.  These are really catching on lately, and involve ideas like: sustainable cooking; container gardening; paper making; crafting; cheese and butter making, you name it!  Laugh and enjoy each other’s company while you develop skills that are useful and beneficial.

Dedicate Time: Go volunteer at a local shelter serving their dinner that night.  You’ll skip the awkward “it’s just us, what do we talk about?” if it’s a first date or close to it, which is always helpful, and you can bond over an experience of giving time and effort.

Plant something: Plant a tree, start an herb garden for your kitchen!  Gather all the tools/items needed and surprise your date with everything all planned out from start to finish.  Start working on that green thumb together – then see if you can keep it alive!

Zero Carbon Footprint Dinner: If you live somewhere big enough where this is an option, see if this trend has caught on in your area!  Lots of places are now offering menus entirely devoted to local/seasonal ingredients, organic wines and desserts and even boast a green energy preparation style.  Bonus points if you can walk or bike to dinner!

Home Dinner Date: Go to a local farmers market after work, grab some fun ingredients and head back to your place to cook something crazy and new.  Try a totally raw dinner!  There’s nothing like enjoying a meal you cooked together.  Affordable, and eco-friendly.  Follow it up with a rented movie of dancing lessons.

General tips: Go organic for dinner, whether you make it yourselves or head out.  Aim to be outdoors more and indoors less.  The less you drive, means the less fuel consumed = less energy consumed.  Picnics anyone?  Go take a romantic walk at a nearby walking trail or hit the hills for a quick evening hike to catch the sunset.  Remember, there are plenty of organic and free-trade options for chocolates, wines and espressos these days!  Impress her with your creativity and make the gift.  Maybe it’s something you’ve written, perhaps a hand-crafted wood item for the kitchen.  If you made it, she’ll love it.

Looking for meaningful Valentine’s Day gifts with a low environmental and social impact? Check out our selection of Fair Trade jewelry — including earrings, necklaces, and bracelets — as well as chocolate.

Image source: istockphoto.com

  1. Becki

    A lot of these are healthier options as well; after all, what says “I care a lot about you” more than concern for your loved one’s health, fitness and wellbeing? I try to improve my health whilst minimising my impact on the environment, and for V day I shall encourage my partner to do the same using these great tips.

  2. Andrew

    I think this is a great idea. I believe we must start sustainable water practices at the individual level!

    I run a small landscaping company in Birmingham AL. Most people think of the SE as a rain belt, but over the past 6 years we have experienced several years of rather severe drought which has gotten people to think about conservation. Much of the water use in the SE is to water lawns and gardens. It does not make sense to use chlorinated water for this use!

    In my business, I have started to install rain barrels (underground and in crawl spaces under porches etc), low water irrigation systems, and of course the biggest is to use local plants that are drought tolerant in many of my designs… but have not done it at home! (kinda like the shoe makers kids:)
    So… for my valentine gift to my wife, I will do one of the above and enjoy the fruits of the day all year!

  3. Gardener

    I was planning to do a home dinner, mostly for economical reasons, but it’s nice to realize that’s not the only advantage. Not much of a Farmer’s market this season where I live, but we do a lot of canning every year, so it will still be local and (kind of) fresh!

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