Love is in the air! It’s that time of year when our kids celebrate friendship and love by indulging in treats and handing out cards to their friends during Valentine’s Day class parties. It’s so exciting for them to receive these goodies from their classmates to show how much they care about each other, but have you noticed all the waste that these cute little parties produce?
This holiday is all about love, and that includes showing love to the earth as well as to each other. Here are some fun and easy ways to throw an eco-friendly Valentine’s Day party.
Valentine’s Day has a love affair with chocolate and heart-shaped candy, but it’s important to choose these treats carefully. Look for natural and organic candy and baked goods, which don’t contain harmful chemicals and are better for our health and the environment. Goodies wrapped in paper boxes or foil can be recycled. You can also buy candy in bulk and wrap it yourself in cute cloth pouches or small paper boxes. Avoid food wrapped in excessive plastic (such as dips and pre-packaged fruit salads); use glass or stainless steel containers for leftovers.
You can make a big impact by avoiding plastic or Styrofoam. Instead, look for paper (recycled is best), bamboo or even plates and utensils made out of palm leaves. If the children need straws for neatness, look for paper or stainless steel options. If possible, use real cloth tablecloths. Napkins made from recycled materials are now readily available online and at major retailers.
What kind of Valentine’s Day celebration would there be without all the red and pink heart decorations? Here are some ways to go green when you decorate the classroom:
• Choose paper decorations.
• Make your own decorations using last year’s Valentine’s cards, ribbons and tissue paper from gifts you received or recycled paper that you can draw, paint or stamp with hearts and cupids.
• Use natural items like apples and cherries, red plants and flowers and rocks, leaves, flower petals or pinecones you can glue into heart shapes.
• Check out local thrift stores, online sites like freecycle.org and garage sales for treasures that can add a sparkle to your party decor.
When you choose the perfect outfit for your child, look for organic options that don’t use pesticides and other toxic materials that can get absorbed by our skin and cause irritation and other negative health consequences. By opting for fabrics like organic cotton, you minimize the harmful effect of carbon on our planet and limit the exposure of chemicals that harm the environment and our kids.
Of course, the main event of any Valentine’s class party is the valentines. Those produced each year and tossed in the garbage harm the environment in a ways like deforestation, air pollution and greenhouse gases that cause climate change. We can make a big difference by cutting back on our paper use with a few creative tricks.
• Find cards made from recycled paper.
• Help your children make their own cards from recycled paper and leftover materials around the house. This way they can personalize them and their friends will feel so special!
• Spread a green message by handing out paper cards with seeds embedded in them. Look for colorful hearts or other fun shapes. Then, each child can go home and plant it to grow their own flowers or herbs, which will make the holiday all the more special.
SCRAP Creative Reuse (baltimore.scrapcreativereuse.org): SCRAP is a donation-based creative reuse store and donation center where you can find all kinds of reused materials for arts and crafts—plus school, office and party supplies.
MOM’s Organic Market (momsorganicmarket.com): Locations in Baltimore and White Marsh.
Roots Market (rootsmkt.com): Located in Clarksville, this store has a terrific selection of organic, all-natural food.
Nest: (nestnaturalhome.com): Located in Clarksville, this store offers eco-friendly gifts, clothing, toys, stationery and more.
H.C Walterhoefer (hcwalterhoefer.com): This Baltimore staple carries a vast assortment of eco-friendly products like cups and tableware made of corn, bamboo, sugarcane and potato.
Wholefoods (wholefoodsmarket.com): Several locations in area including Harbor East, Mt. Washington and Towson.
Sandi Schwartz, a mother of two, has written extensively about parenting, wellness and environmental issues for publications including our sister MidAtlantic Media parenting magazines, and is founder and director of the Ecohappiness Project. ecohappinessproject.com.