An ethical guide to Valentine’s Day

By Olivia Kellett

Photo by Gábor Juhász on Unsplash


Traditionally, February 14th is a day to celebrate the love we have for our significant other, friends, and family. So how do we do Valentine’s Day in a sustainable way?

Valentine’s should be a day of joy, intimacy and gratitude for your loved ones, and one that doesn’t cost the earth and spreads your love.


At this time of year most roses are imported and the workers are rarely paid fair wages. There’s a significant environmental impact too. Often red roses are grown out of season in energy intense greenhouses, and are then shipped all over the world, emitting a lot of carbon into our atmosphere. A single red rose could have the same carbon emissions as four and a half kilos of bananas.

Buy Fairtrade roses, a seasonal bouquet or plant a tree?

Instead buy flowers that are certified fairtrade. Fairtrade flowers are traceable back to the original farm and ensure workers receive a fair wage and acceptable working conditions. 

fairtrade flowers
Images via

If you cannot find fairtrade roses, why not opt for seasonally locally grown flowers? Flowers from the Farm is a network of flower farmers based all over the UK from Cornwall to Inverness, with members running micro-businesses on allotments and cutting gardens, to flower farmers on 6 acres or more. The site allows you to find flowers from local farmers and order seasonal bouquets fresh from the farm.

Why not celebrate your love with a positive environmental impact, by planting a tree. At The Woodland Trust or The National Forest you can choose from a range of species to plant in the National Forest in the UK. You can even go down to the park on a tree planting event, to plant the tree yourselves.


Most chocolate is made with ingredients where the workers and not paid fair wages and the ingredients are not grown organically. Cheaper chocolate is often made with unsustainable palm oil, which contributes to deforestation and destruction of animal habitats and cultivated by unethical means.

Why not gift those you love Divine? Divine chocolates are certified organic and contain no artificial flavours, no palm oil or soya. The company works closely with cocoa farmers to maintain ethical working conditions and ensure complete transparency within their supply chain.

fairtrade chocolate
Images via Divine Chocolate


Cut down on waste by making your own valentines day cards from second-hand or recyclable materials. Alternatively, why not cut out waste all-together by sending an e-card with Paperless Post. Here you can customize online cards and send them via email to anyone anywhere in the world.

sustainable stationery
Images via Paperless Post

Eating out / dining in

Most couples and friends in the UK celebrate Valentine’s Day with dinner. This year there are more vegan and vegetarian options on the menu than ever before. Choose restaurants that pride themselves on sustainability and choose vegetarian, vegan and zero-waste restaurants.

Here are two great guides to finding sustainable restaurants in London and the rest of the UK.

ethical valentines day ideas
Image via

Alternatively, have a home cooked meal. The  Vegetarian Society lists the UKs seasonal vegetables and fruits whilst providing recipes to help you plan more conscious meals. Here are the Vegetarian Society’s own seasonal Valentine’s Day recipes.

Image via The Vegan Society


Buying beautiful jewellery? Look for brands made with fairtrade gold. Fairtrade gold ensures goods are made in decent working conditions with fairer prices paid to the workers, and avoids exploitation.