Valentine’s Day is a great excuse for chocolate, wine, and flowers. However, the impact these indulgences have on the environment and producers is often forgotten. Use the following tips to spread the love this “heart day” and remember to Eat. Drink. Think.
Not all chocolate is created equal – Chocolate treats including chocolate bars, truffles, and cookies typically have two ingredients that require special attention – cocoa and palm oil. Both cocoa and palm oil production can have significant negative impacts, including child labor, slave labor, conversion of forests to plantations, erosion, and reduced water quality. Look for labels including Fair Trade, Rainforest Alliance, and GreenPalm when purchasing sweet treats to ensure you are supporting appropriate treatment of the workers and the environment.
Drink responsibly – The grapes used to produce wine are just as likely to be produced with pesticides as the grapes you eat. Pesticides are also likely used for the hops and grain in your beer, too. Look for the USDA Organic label on wine and beer and SIP certification on wine. Purchasing locally produced beverages is another way to reduce your environmental impact when drinking. Wine and beer from North Carolina (and the southeast region) has a smaller carbon footprint than beverages shipped from farther away. Although ingredients matter, proximity also plays a significant role when trying to decrease your environmental impact.
Sniff scents, not pesticides – Many purchased flowers come from outside the United States where there are less strict regulations surrounding pesticide use. Depending on where your flowers were shipped from, intensive pesticide use, including that of DDT (which is banned in the U.S., but not elsewhere) is likely. Since purchasing flowers locally is a less viable option in North Carolina in February, rely on labels including Rainforest Alliance,Veriflora, and Florverde. Whether you purchase from an online provider, local florist, or pick up a bouquet from the neighborhood grocery store, these labels are relatively easy to find.
Indulge by giving – Consider sharing your love with the world in a different way this Valentine’s Day by donating to the Piedmont Environmental Alliance. Your donation will support events and programs that enrich your community including Energy Explorers and the 2016 Piedmont Earth Day Fair.
Integrate these tips into your purchasing decisions to share the love everyday.