Sweet treats to be more sustainable this Valentine’s Day

Be more sustainable this Valentine’s Day with these creative and organic gift ideas provided by UAB expert Tim Sullivan.

Valentines2Be more sustainable this Valentine’s Day with these creative and organic gift ideas.Valentine’s Day is here, and many couples are scrambling for last-minute gift and date ideas.

Instead of spending money on gifts and other items that will cause harmful impact to the environment, follow this sweet treat guide to help make this holiday season more sustainable.

Gift ideas

Buy a potted plant instead of a bouquet of flowers. Tim Sullivan, facilities manager in the University of Alabama at Birmingham’s Facilities Division, says these will last longer and add to the joy your partner feels daily.  

“Cards will often be thrown away, so think about the type of card you’re buying and whether it can be recycled,” Sullivan said. “Or determine whether you even need to give a card. Sometimes the gift of time or a longer, handwritten letter would be more treasured.”

Supporting a cause your Valentine is passionate about is an environmentally friendly choice as well and speaks directly to the heart.

A tree touches all of our senses: sight, smell, touch, sound and taste, explains Sullivan. “What could be more romantic than planting a tree for your Valentine? Or giving a gift to the UAB Tree Fund in your Valentine’s name. The Tree Fund helps maintain tree diversity, replace damaged or diseased trees, and add to the overall tree population on campus.”

Dinner ideas

Make dinner from sustainable or organic products.

Sullivan says buying local is a good way to ensure you know how the food was produced. It also enables you to cut down on the amount of packaging you would then need to recycle or throw away.  

“Glass bottles are not easily recycled,” Sullivan said. “In the Birmingham area, the only option is to take glass recycling to your local Target store. Better options include buying canned or boxed wine. For canned wine, you can recycle the entire can, and for boxed wine, you can often recycle the entire box.”  

Sullivan advises to be careful of boxes that are coated in wax or other substances and to also be sure to remove the plastic bag before you recycle the box.  

“There are increasingly good wine options that come in different containers; some options even include sustainable and biodynamic wine,” Sullivan said. “Visit your local wine shop to learn more.”

Sustainable choices

Using locally sourced goods for Valentine’s Day is a great sustainable choice.  

“Buying locally cuts down on transportation costs associated with moving products, putting less CO2 in the air,” Sullivan said. “Using stores within walking distance of your home or office is not only great for the environment, but also helps us get a little exercise too. Buying locally helps support your local community.”

UAB Recycling and UAB Sustainability are working to keep plastic trash from polluting the state and region; UAB Sustainability’s Strategic Plan aims to reduce disposal of waste in local landfills and develop the university grounds for ecological stewardship.

The UAB Recycling Center accepts these items and is open 7-9 a.m. and 4-5:30 p.m. Monday and Thursday.