Holidays generate so much trash! Don’t let love blind you to an overflowing garbage bin this Valentine’s Day.
1. Plan your menu in advance
Planning makes zero-waste success possible—and not just on Valentine’s Day. For example, let’s say I need sour cream for a dish. I merely have to stir a spoonful of cultured buttermilk into a cup of half-and-half and wait 24 hours for the cream to ferment and transform into the world’s most delicious sour cream. Dead easy but I do need a day’s notice. This kind of simple planning runs counter to our demand for instant gratification.
You may want to plan for a snack for the two of you to munch on in case your dinner prep falls behind schedule, drinks, an appetizer such as a salad, a main dish and of course, dessert. Once you have planned your menu, shop with cloth shopping bags, cloth produce and bulk bags, glass jars and any other containers you use for this purpose. With the right shopping implements, you can transform pretty much any recipe into a zero-waste version. If you have questions about zero-waste shopping, check out this post.
2. Date a (cute) vegetarian
Find yourself a hot vegetarian (or vegan) to eat with regularly and you will reduce not only your trash but your overall footprint as plant-based foods consume fewer resources to produce than animal products. Switching to a plant-based diet can also improve your health. If you have access to bulk bins, they no doubt offer dried beans and lentils. Here is a recipe for dal. Here is a one for not-too-spicy black beans.
3. Set the table with real dishes
I doubt many reading this blog would serve a delicious home-cooked meal on styrofoam plates but I needed a number 3 in this list… Use real cutlery, glasses and cloth napkins while you’re at it.
4. Decorate with plants
Skip the helium-filled plastic balloons, store-bought paper wall-hangings and other single-use decorations and opt for natural, simple decor. You don’t need much. Local flowers, a potted flowering plant or a healthy green plant will look beautful as your centerpiece and won’t add to the trashcan after your meal.
5. Eat by candlelight
I light my candles with matches I bought at an antiques fair last summer. You may also find books and boxes of matches at second-hand stores. After I light the candle, I toss the burnt match into my compost bucket.
As for candles, I buy beeswax. They burn slowly and contain no nasty chemicals. If you choose tapered candles, they almost completely burn up so you won’t be left with a big hunk of beeswax that may send you spiraling into a bout of zero-waste guilt if you don’t do something with it. I recently shredded a couple of spent large beeswax candles to make beeswax food wraps.
I have bought tapered beeswax candles at the farmer’s market and also at a church. If you buy them at a church, when you restock—and your date has gone well—you can hit the confessional while you’re there.
Happy Valentine’s Day!