While red and pink may be the traditional colors of Valentine's Day, consider adding "green" to the mix this year. Here are a few easy ways to show Mother Earth your love this February.
Ditch the Paper Cards
Send e-mails or create electronic cards instead of sending out store-bought valentines. Grandma isn't tech savvy? Surprise her with a phone call on the 14th.
If you want to mail a greeting, consider paper your child has already used. A drawing or a picture colored from a book can quickly become a valentine when your child adds his own heart-felt message for the recipient. If you have lots of office paper that is printed on one side, cut two hearts, glue the printed sides together, and decorate the blank sides.
Reuse Valentine's Day Cards
Get maximum benefit out of the cards your child brings home from classmates by encouraging use as bookmarks. Or consider making other paper crafts from them, such as collages and mobiles.
Drive with a Buddy
According to The Clean Air Campaign, every mile driven releases a pound of pollution into the air. Make a conscious effort to trade off with other parents to transport kids to dances, group movie dates, or parties. Even one car off the road during that drive to a Valentine's Day celebration can help improve air quality.
Limit Party Waste
If you are hosting a party, consider using Evites or a similar service to send invitations electronically. (Added benefit: Saving on the cost of stamps!)
"Avoid buying anything made from paper for your party," recommends Lynn Colwell, who with daughter Corey Colwell-Lipson is a co-author of Celebrate Green! Creating Eco-Savvy Holidays, Celebrations and Traditions for the Whole Family. A few of her tips include:
- Use a sheet for a tablecloth. If it's old, stamp on valentine sentiments and symbols, or pin on paper hearts if you don't want to damage it.
- Instead of paper plates and cups, use what you own, borrow, or check out local thrift stores. Plates don't have to match or be red.
- Only purchase food items that can be eaten, frozen, or given away. About 20 percent of food Americans buy is tossed. Provide glass containers decorated with hearts for guests to take home leftovers.
- Supply clearly marked recycling containers covered with hearts.
Be an Earth-Friendly Room Parent
- Forgo cake and other treats that require plastic utensils in favor of cookies and other easy-to-eat items. To eliminate the need for paper plates (and to keep grubby little hands off all the food), cut fabric scraps into squares for each child's desk and let an adult go around distributing edibles.
- Instead of purchasing trinkets for game prizes, organizers may want to put out a call for donations of "extras." You'd be surprised at how many parents would love to send leftover treat-bag favors from their child's birthday party or duplicate Happy Meal toys, and kids love the opportunity to select from an assortment. Another option is seeing if the teacher would agree to privilege prizes, such as winning the spot as line leader for a week or receiving a one-time homework pass.
- Finally, literally and figuratively send home the message to help the planet by giving each student a solid-colored, reusable tote to carry goodies. Supply fabric markers for kids to draw on the cloth bags, or have them collect signatures and messages from classmates as a remembrance of Valentine's Day.