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5 Zero-Waste Gifts of Affection (Romantic or Platonic)


Having days marked out on our calendars — whether it’s Valentine’s Day or Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, or Thursday — to celebrate the people we love in our lives is a good thing, so make it whatever you want. 

Here are a few ideas for romantic / platonic gift ideas that are waste-free, vegan, and meaningful. 

#1 FLOWERS AND PLANTS 

Growing flowers and shipping them around the world has a huge carbon footprint. If you can find locally grown flowers where you are, then that’s your best option. If not, consider buying a plant or tree from a local nursery that can be kept and loved as a house plant or planted in the ground in the spring. If you’d still like to buy flowers, consider a sustainable online retailer like Bouqs.com that wraps flowers in paper (not plastic) and features the farmers they source their flowers from. 

#2 CONSUMABLE GIFTS 

With chocolate — as with many things grown commercially and intensively — there are many considerations — such as how it’s produced in terms of environmental impacts, human rights, animal exploitation, so make sure you’re purchasing something that reflects your values. My favorite chocolate brands are

  • Endangered Species (best hazelnut chocolate spread / vegan nutella ever!)
  • Tcho (which is a local chocolate maker and works with farmers directly)
  • AlterEco and
  • Theo

They’re all packaged in foil and paper, which means I can recycle the foil and compost the paper (and tell my gift recipient to to do the same).

Alternatively, check to see if you can get chocolate in bulk. It might be little chocolate candies or even chocolate chips you can add to a nice glass jar you have on hand, or look for a tin of chocolate pieces, cocoa powder, or vegan / plant-based hot chocolate mixes (or make your own with cocoa powder and sugar!). 

–>glass and aluminum are the two materials I still purchase (in a limited way). They’re both still considered valuable in the marketplace, and so they’re properly recycled and then used again to make more glass and more aluminum (whereas plastic is not). 

So, in that vein, what about gifting someone a beautiful bottle (or tin) of…

  • olive oil
  • tea
  • wine or
  • scotch

#3 HOMEMADE MEALS

Now, obviously I’m going to recommend homemade meals because…there is NOTHING more personal than making a beautiful meal for someone that you shopped for, prepped for, and made yourself (and because I have over 500 recipes in my cookbooks to guide you! It’s just so much more meaningful to cook a meal for someone over going to a restaurant. (In The Vegan Table, I have recipes and menus specific to romantic meals, and of course The Joy of Vegan Baking is chock full of sweet desserts.)

And if you want to think in terms of aphrodisiac foods, consider the sensory characteristics of the foods you choose: how they look, sound, smell, taste, or feel. 

 –> VISUAL: Red, for instance, has always been associated with passion, so choose beets, cherries, cranberries, and pomegranates. Asparagus has been enjoyed as an aphrodisiac because of its (ahem!) shape. 

 –> TEXTURE: Agave nectar, derived from a cactus-like plant, oozes a thick sweet syrup. The romantic effect of champagne has more to do with the bubbles than with the alcohol. Think mouthfeel (something creamy, something succulent, something scintillating.) I’ll let you use your imagination to come up with ideas.

 –> HEAT: Spicy foods do heat up the body, so consider something like my Spicy Red Bell Pepper Soup (which is both red and spicy) and a slice of my Mexican Chocolate Cake – both of which are in my book The 30-Day Vegan Challenge

–>BLOOD FLOW: Someone has to say this: a healthy body has everything to do with blood flowing unhindered to all of the organs in our body! Plant foods — vegetables, fruits, nuts, seeds, grains, legumes, mushrooms, herbs, and spices — are all aphro-di-si-a-cal foods, because they increase blood flow. Meat and animal products, on the other hand, constrict the blood vessels, decreasing blood flow, and thus potentially decreasing the libido. Know what I mean, jelly bean?

#4 HANDMADE CARDS / NOTES

What would a commercial greeting card say that you couldn’t write yourself? Grab some paper or a blank greeting card you have at home, a marker, and get writing. Or send an email. Just take the time to tell your loved one(s) you appreciate them!

#5 EXPERIENCES NOT THINGS

Go to the theatre, a sports game, a bowling alley, the movies. Go on a picnic, a hike, a walk. Go create some memories. 

Just don’t hurt anyone (including animals and our earth), keep it simple, keep in meaningful, make it special. 

I’D LOVE TO KNOW WHAT YOU DO TO MAKE YOUR LOVED ONES FEEL SPECIAL, ZERO-WASTE, AND COMPASSIONATE FOR ALL!

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