Whether for oneself, friends, or someone a little extra special, February represents the month of love. Though extravagant displays of red balloons and oversized polyester stuffed bears that all one day up in a landfill are accepted as the norm, it is much better for the planet to cherish your significant other by spending a little quality time together. Celebrating through experiences is a great way to minimize reliance on material possessions. While most of us have learned reduce, reuse, recycle since childhood, we can often get caught up on the last “r” when the first is actually the most effective way to protect our environment. Keep reading for 5 ideas on how you can reduce your footprint, but not the love, this Valentine’s Day. 

1. Pack a Picnic

Go classic and pack a picnic to take to the beach, to a park, or even to the floor of your living room. Wherever your basket takes you, make sure it is filled with reusable plates, silverware, and delicious food in glass containers or beeswax wraps. To take things to the next level, do a little picnic photoshoot with each other. You can then use the photos as phone backgrounds in lieu of a paper card. 

a couple walking on the beach, a picnic

2. Hold Hands on a Hike

If you’re reading this, chances are you have a little extra love in your heart for Mother Earth, and it’s likely you attract a partner that does too. Get outside and enjoy the outdoors together. Research a trail ahead of time that has plenty of vistas for you to pause at, and maybe even sneak a smooch. If you’re in colder climates this time of year, consider making some hot chocolate or tea in reusable travel mugs to give your hand not entwined with your partner’s some warmth. 

3. Bake In Some Love

Opt out of the individually packaged candy and cheaply made boxes that are twice as big as the chocolate they hold and instead mix it up with your perfect match in the kitchen. You can either bake separately and present each other with a surprise or find a recipe that will allow you to swap the pottery wheel from Ghost with a standing mixer. Recipes including the aphrodisiacs chocolate, strawberries, pomegranate, figs, or honey ensure that more than just the oven may be heating up, do with that information what you will. 

lit up swan pedal boats on a water, a girl in a floral dress

4. Pedal Boat

Get your heart racing together - no, no, no, we’re not going there - as you pedal around a serine lake. Skip the gas powered motor and find a pedal boat company locally. You’ll get to sit side by side, with plenty of time to chat, and pretend you are in a cheesy, but still really fun, romance movie. Plus, this allows you to work together, taking turns or deciding when to pause or push forward, a vital lesson for your relationship. 

5. Give Gifts A Second Life 

If you or your partner’s love language is gift giving, you can still stay true to what’s important to you with just a few eco-friendly tweaks. Get fair trade chocolate, locally grown flowers, or have a little fun. Go together to a second hand store - could be used books, antiques, clothes, whatever you both enjoy - and put a time and a price limit to adhere to. When the time is up, meet each other at check out with your finds.