But yes, our kiddos all have to pass out Valentine's to the classmates. Instead of the generic valentines with branded characters, why not make your own? Yes, I realize that Valentines are insanely inexpensive, but that doesn't mean they don't come with a cost. Think about where all those Valentine's are made. Yea...China. Just think about the "costs" associated with shipping a bunch of printed papers all the way from China (not to mention what might be used in the production & printing processes). Here are a few ideas to make this year a low-waste Valentine's Day and show the earth a little love too!
- Print your own Valentines! Yep - there are a ton of printable valentines out there. Just google "printable valentines" and you'll be amazed. Print them off on your own printer (onto recycled card stock, of course), cut them...and voila. Unique made-from-home valentines! (If you've been blessed with creative graphic talents, you can even design your own on the computer!) There are also professional designers on Etsy who offer up designs - sometimes customizable - for download. Prices vary, but it's still super-cheap and goes to support a designer! My preschooler is using this adorable owl valentine, as just one example of a FREE printable.
- Make your own Valentines! Even if you are as craft-challenged as I am, you can cut a heart. I promise. Or draw a heart and have your kiddo cut it out. Use recycled paper...or even better, scraps from other projects. Have the kiddos write their name and you're done. If you want to get a little fancier, find a template for a more intricate design. My 1st grader is using this design to create a 'valentine snowflake' with origami paper we already had and then gluing them onto another piece of coordinating origami paper. Super-cute, I must say.
- Skip the candy. I don't know when Valentines Day turned into as big a candy holiday as Halloween, but all those individually wrapped items create an awful lot of waste (and sugar highs). In my opinion, it's just unnecessary. Make sweet valentines and skip the sweet treat. If you absolutely have to include candy, consider something like a sucker with a wax-paper wrapper instead of plastic. Then, the wrapper and the stick are compostable! (And, there are loads of cute DIY valentine options that include suckers.)
- Recycle! Many of the cheap-o valentines are actually recyclable, so don't forget to put in your paper recycling bin after you read through them. Or, consider keeping them and reusing them next year (just glue the old valentine - or a cutout part of the valentine - on a fresh piece of paper and write a new message on the back). Lenticular valentines (the groovy ones with changing images) and ones with foil on them are not recyclable though.
There are lots of easy, low-cost ways to make this year a low-waste Valentine's Day...it just takes a little bit of thinking about how to change things up from what's presented to us by the mass-marketing machine!