With less than a week to go until Valentine’s Day, now’s the time to be investing in everything you’ll need to make it extra special. As well as some last minute gift ideas, I’ve picked out some great brands and products for you so you’ll have everything you need for a steamy and sustainable evening.
As well as some of the environmental issues associated with the flower industry like chemical pollution, deforestation and water use (a single rose stem requires around 10 litres of fresh water to reach its full size), there’s also the issue of low pay and harsh working conditions, which affect Columbia’s flower workers in particular, most of which are female.
So if you’re planning on getting some classic red roses for Wednesday and are having a bit of a floral dilemma (see what I did there) – make sure your flowers are also green and ethically sourced. The easiest thing to do is look for the Fairtrade sticker. These flowers come from Fairtrade certified farms in Kenya, Uganda, Tanzania and Ethiopia, as well as Sri Lanka and Ecuador. Fairtrade farms have to ensure safety and working conditions for employees – plus, a premium of 10% for every stem sold means that workers can invest in things like healthcare and education.
“Fairtrade aims to protect and benefit workers on flowers farms by working with certified farms to ensure decent working conditions for their employees and protecting workers’ rights. These rights encompass economic, environmental and social dimensions of working conditions but also aim to amplify and strengthen the voice and choices of workers’ themselves.”
There’s also Bunches, who source their flowers from all over the world – without compromising people or the environment. Their Columbian sourced flowers are part of a voluntary code called Florverde, a unique initiative aiming to improve the quality of life of its workers whilst also meeting specific environmental standard, and they also work with suppliers to support the Fair Flowers, Fair Plants initiative. On top of this, 10% of their profits go to charitable projects in the UK and abroad. You can find out more about them and order Valentine’s Day flowers on their website.
The majority of cocoa beans are produced in Africa – in fact just two countries, Ghana and Ivory Coast, supply 75% of the world’s cocoa market, with one in four Ivorians relying on the proceeds of cocoa to feed their family. As the demand for cheap cocoa rises, many farmers have resorted to using child labour to keep their costs down.
Divine is the only chocolate company in the world which is 100% Fairtrade and owned by cocoa farmers. They source their cocoa from Kuapa Kokoo, a co-operative of over 80,000 cocoa farmers in Ghana, who receive 44% of the profits as well as a fair price for their cocoa. They also have a range of vegan, palm oil and plastic free products available on their site – just use the ethics and tags filter on the left to search.
If you’re after some extra special dairy free chocolate, Truffle Pig is a Sheffield based company providing handmade vegan chocolates that you can order online. Their Valentine’s Day caramel filled hearts come in a box of 6, 12 or 24, and are also gluten free – plus you can even order them as a gift delivered straight to your other half. There’s also a box of truffles containing flavours like peanut butter, coffee and orange, as well as a range of bars. If you’re not quite sure which one to go for, you can also buy a voucher to give as a gift.
Spirits & Fizz
Although most of us are more aware of the impact that alcohol can have on our bodies (and our bank balance) we rarely think about the impact that it has on the environment or on producers. Fortunately, FAIR has done the thinking for us, and is the world’s first range of Fairtrade certified spirits made from ethically sourced ingredients like organic sugar cane and juniper berries. Not only are farmers guaranteed a fair price, but all agricultural practices are sustainable. Best of all? You can get them online, right here. Because nothing says ‘I love you’ like a Fairtrade G&T.
If you’re feeling more fancy, but don’t quite have the budget, Aldi has a range of ‘green’ wines on offer that are either organic, carbon neutral or made without added sulphur. Treat yourselves to a bottle of Organic Prosecco, made from grapes grown in a pesticides or herbicides free vineyard that’s also committed to using renewable energy.
Ok, now we’ve got the formalities out of the way and had time for a beverage or three, it’s time to get down to business. Or at least to our undies. Luva Huva is a Brighton based company that sells ethical and handmade lingerie and loungewear, providing a more sustainable and environmentally conscious alternative to the often wasteful fashion industry. Their team of three talented ladies make almost all of their orders from scratch, and use consciously selected materials like bamboo, hemp, organic cotton and soy – and support one of the last UK based manufacturers of elastic.
They also use end of line and off cut fabrics wherever possible to create limited edition ranges, recycling fabrics that would otherwise be discarded. Plus, all their lingerie sets come in 100% recyclable boxes. There’s also gift vouchers available, which they can email to you if you’re searching for a last minute present. What more could you possibly ask for?
Another option is British brand Augustine London (also known as In Bloom London), who’s lingerie is made from organic cotton and tencel, a textile made from sustainably managed wood. All their items are hand made with love and care in a small family-run factory in the north of France.
Now your new ethical and sustainable lacy purchase is most likely on the floor, it’s time to talk sexessories (yes I did come up with that all by myself). With many products made from silicone and PVC, the plastic-free eco warriors among us might be concerned about missing all the fun when it comes to sex toys. But fear not, there’s a new kid on the biodegradable block. Gaia Eco is made from BioFeel, a starch-based bioplastic, making it the world’s first biodegradable and recyclable vibrator. It’s a win for you, and a win for the planet.
There’s also Sustain Natural, a certified B-corp (and so much more) offering a wide range of eco-friendly products like organic lubricant – which is also vegan, gluten free, silicon free, paraben free… the list goes on. They also do FSC certified and cruelty free natural latex condoms. Better for you, better for the environment, better for everyone.
If you’re after something a bit different, there’s the (rather bizarre) German company Einhorn, whose vegan and cruelty-free condoms are fairly and sustainably produced in Malaysia – and they also give 50% of their profits to charitable projects. Their site is entirely in German – and aside from ‘Kondom Shop’ and the word ‘einhorn’ (which apparently means unicorn), most of their content is incomprehensible unless you speak German. But in all honestly, all that matters is that you can navigate your way to the Condom Shop (which I’ve already done for you) – and it helps if you have google translate installed so you can pick exactly what you want.
N.B I did also manage to find this hilarious article about the company’s slightly outrageous claims on their packaging – please only use each condom once…
And on that note, Happy Valentine’s Day!