10 Ways To Have A Progressive Valentine’s Day
1. Make Your Own Card—Or Send an E-Card
Save paper (and the environment) by making your own Valentine’s Day card using recycled paper or re-using a sappy card from a past V-Day—a funny, and hopefully still romantic, substitute. (If you’re super crafty, take the Martha Stewart route.)
Not so crafty? Check out e-card websites like someecards.com, where many options feature progressive-friendly and humorous messages.
2. Buy Organic or Fair-Trade Chocolate and Wine
Support human rights issues and buy treats that are certified “fair-trade” or organic. Much of the world’s cocoa and wine come from countries where labor rights are serious issues; in West Africa, where nearly three-fourths of cocoa is grown, children as young as five are forced to work and perform dangerous tasks.
Many fair-trade and organic chocolates are more adventurous than Hershey and feature unique combinations like chili-chocolate. Even if it doesn’t taste better, you’ll certainly feel better bingeing on it.
3. Buying Diamonds or Electronics? Go Blood-Free
If you’re special someone is special enough to get jewelry this year, don’t ruin the moment with a “blood diamond.” While Leonardo DiCaprio drew the world’s attention to the issue of conflict minerals in Blood Diamond, the Enough Project at the Center for American Progress, our parent organization, continues to serve as a great guide for making smart purchases.
And conflict minerals aren’t just found in bracelets and necklaces—that iPad or Kindle you’re buying could be financing military groups that often commit violent acts against their own people. Find out more at the Enough Project.
4. Buy Local and Organic Flowers
Like the world’s cocoa industry, the flower business is tainted with worker abuse and another negative side effect—chemicals. In addition to working 20 hour days at fast paces, flower harvesters in Columbia and Ecuador—two major suppliers to the U.S.—often inhale dangerous pesticides that are known toxins or cause cancer.
So buy your red roses locally or opt for making your own paper flowers: they’re easy to make and they add a really special touch.
5. Get New Candles
When you’re setting the mood—be it the kitchen or the bedroom—remember that most candles are petroleum-based, which mean you could be exposing yourself to neurotoxic fumes.
Help your health (and your lover’s) by switching to beeswax or soy candles. They’re widely available, including at local farmers’ markets, and are also a step toward easing the U.S. off its dependency on foreign oil.
6. Use Birth Control
When the red wine and the romance kick in, be protected. Despite a recent spat between the White House and some religious organizations, birth control—whether the pill or condoms, or both—is a safe and viable way to protect yourself from pregnancy and, depending on type, from STDs.
You already bought a gift this year, you don’t need another one.
7. Write a “Love Letter” to Your Elected Official
No, not a creepy love letter—more of a thank you note.
Grab your partner (this can be romantic, right?) and write your Senator or Representative, encouraging him or her to promote progressive policies. Is she already doing a great job? Then give her a nice compliment and thanks!
Don’t know what to ask? Here’s one: Tell your elected official to prevent the Stafford loan interest rate from doubling on millions of Americans this summer. (Or, here's a list from the Center for American Progress, our parent organization, of 10 progressive achievements to be thankful for.)
8. Spread The Love—Volunteer For Your Favorite Charity
What’s more romantic than sharing? Help those in need this Valentine’s Day by taking your significant other for a few hours of community service. It’s one simple way to make you both, and many others, feel loved.
Prefer online advocacy? Mashable has some suggestions for doing good via the web.
9. Lose the Gift Wrap, Use A Reusable Bag
Save some wrapping paper and give your gift in a reusable bag.
Or, just give a reusable bag. It’s a simple two-in-one gift. (While you’re at it, throw in some fresh fruit with a personalized tag.)
10. Support Equality—Give His & His or Hers & Hers Gifts
Maybe those “His & Hers” gifts every retail outlet is promoting don’t really fit your special relationship. No worries—turn to several of the sites out there (like GayWeddings.com, which has more than just wedding swag) for some same-sex presents.
Not into the embroidered pillows or towel sets? No biggie—it’s about equality, so go with your gut. We think fair-trade chocolate and organic wine should be just fine.
Have other suggestions for a progressive Valentine’s Day? Share them with us below!
Leor Reef is a journalism intern with Campus Progress.