Despite being in a long term relationship, i will not celebrate Valentines Day on February 14th.
Valentines day is what we call a hallmark holiday, which means a holiday that exists primarily for commercial purposes. While is it true that St valentines day has existed for centuries, the retail industry is guilty for turning it into a massive commercial opportunity and influencing consumers that not doing anything on this day with their special someone is.. well weird.
Thats probably one of the main reason I do not enjoy being part of Valentine's Day. Why do we need a day to remind ourselves that we love our significant other and that we should do something special to celebrate that love? Shouldn't we be doing this all year long rather than wait for an incentive from smart marketers in corporate offices? Also, have you noticed the effects of the period before valentines day on single people? How excluded it makes them feel not to have someone to share the day and its shenanigans with? Why should we want to celebrate a holiday that is basically telling single individuals that they can not buy jewelry, flowers, chocolate or enjoy a nice restaurant on that day just because they are not in a relationship and it's just not their day?
This kind of marketing based exclusion that the retail industry is mastering makes me feel highly uncomfortable and i do not wish to be a part of it.
But mostly, what I really, really don't like about valentines day is the over consumption and huge environmental.impact it generates.
Flowers, jewelry and chocolate are the three main gifts exchanged on V day. And when i say main, I mean 224 million roses are cut and sold, 4.4 billion dollars spent on diamonds, silver and gold and around 20 billion spent in total in the US alone in 2016. Imagine those numbers worldwide.
Sadly enough the kind of gifts exchanges on V day are also some of the presents with the largest environmental footprint you could possibly imagine.
Take roses for instance. The Netherlands distributes 60 % of the global market despite producing only 10% but most of the product comes from low labor costs, warmer countries such as Kenya and Ethopia. There, environmental regulations arnt as strict and according to the World Ressources Institute this notably translates by an intensive chemical use: " flowers are not edible crops and are exempt from regulations on pesticide residues, although they carry significantly more pesticides than allowed on foods". See, we're told to eat more organic food for health and environmental reasons but at the same time, pushed to buy pesticides filled roses. Notice the inconsistency?
Water use is also a huge problem with streams being diverted from nearby sources to answer the need of local greenhouses. In Kenya, near Lake Naivasha, more than half of the water extraction is made by the floriculture industry, polluting water and creating problems with the local community and biodiversity loss. Not so nice in countries where water is already scarce.
But that's not all! The energy needed to transport the flowers in optimum conditions so that they remain consumers ready is huge! Once they get to the Netherlands or other export hubs they need to be dispatched all over the world, which you guessed it, means considerable co2 emissions. Not so romantic right?
Jewelry then? Unless you're buying ethical or vintage, jewelry is one of the worst presents possible in terms of social and environmental impacts with issues such as corruption, child labor, armed conflicts and large scale pollution surrounding the extraction of raw materials. Check out the post I wrote on the subject for Eco warrior princess. It even has some tips on alternatives available if your'e still a jewelry addict like me but do not want to contribute to all these issues! 😊
So yeah, now you may be thinking that Im all about negativity and slamming joyful celebrations when people just want to enjoy their love, right? Not at all! If you want to celebrate V day for any reasons, please do! But at least you'll be informed and thats the most important point! Knowledge is key in order to avoid falling in the trap of love filled retail ads and maybe consider more ethical options?
Let me know your thoughts about V day and if you intend to celebrate, would love to hear you guys point of view!