Ask Eartha: Green hearts for Valentine’s Day |

Ask Eartha: Green hearts for Valentine’s Day

by Eartha Steward

Dear Eartha,

My wife is all about the environment. Do you have some suggestions for healthy alternatives to the usual Valentine’s Day gifts? – Dennis, Breckenridge

Ah … red roses, chocolates, greeting cards, and animated teddy bears. It’s an eco-queen’s ultimate nightmare. I know that Valentine’s Day is a meaningful day to honor the person you love, but why do we have to waste so much in the process? From pink paper to plastic wrapping, Valentine’s Day has developed into another holiday where we send more and more trash to the landfill.

So what can you get for the mountain gal who detests plastic bags, eats organic and local and takes the time to look for “paraben-free” on every shampoo bottle? Mr. Steward has been contemplating this question for ages. I’d say diamonds and fur are probably out of the question.

Start simple. As with any gift for the Mary Jane farm girl or recycling diva, the rules of precycing should always apply. Look for the less toxic, more recyclable, biodegradable, or locally made option. Avoid disposable gifts -items that last 5 minutes to a couple of days before the junk factor sets in and its either off to the thrift store to become someone else’s problem or into the garbage where it’s out of sight and out of mind.

I suggest a creative and handmade approach to the perfect eco-gift for your eco-valentine. Think about what she really needs (or wants). Most often guys, I can tell you it’s not a gigantic bag of chocolates! We may act like we love them, especially when we’re eating them, but believe me, you’ll hear about it later.

Since every woman (even us ultra-earthy types) is unique in her own special way, it’s up to you to find out what makes us happy. Some general suggestions are: a free pass to a yoga class that complements our busy schedule; a worm farm to make the house a little more waste free; a gift certificate to a funky consignment store for guilt-free shopping; a window garden of organic herbs and flowers; a promise to clean, cook and pay the bills for six months…

I’d take any of these gifts over the usual and they have virtually no impact on the planet. In fact, they may even reduce her carbon footprint! Tell her that and she’ll love it even more.

Your footprint, as the gift finder, should stay small too. There’s no reason to go online or to the Front Range to find good gifts. We’re lucky to have local businesses in Summit County that specialize in the services and suggestions mentioned above.

For homemade gifts, there’s no better way to know exactly what’s in your product than to make it yourself. You can avoid toxins and wasteful wrappers by making your own “green” gifts.

This Thursday, from 6-7 p.m. at the High Country Conservation Center (518 Main Street in Frisco), you can learn how to make your own dreamy bath salts, love butter, and massage oils from the experts. Tracie Mears and Justin Pollack from the Backcountry Herbal Apothecary will show you how to make V-Day gifts just in time for the 14th.

Beyond the hands-on workshop, we’ll also discuss non-toxic products and personal care precautions. The workshop costs $20 to cover the cost of materials. The workshop alone can be a fun gift for your significant other – or surprise someone with products you make and take home. Men and women are both encouraged to participate. Please let us know if you plan on coming by calling (970) 668-5703 or e-mail

Whether you decide to give your sweetie handmade or locally made gift this Valentine’s Day, it’s important to remember the real reason for the gifts (or holiday) in the first place – pure appreciation for love in your life. In the words of Michael Franti, “‘It ain’t about who ya love, it’s all about do ya love.”

Eartha Steward is written by Jennifer Santry at the High Country Conservation Center, a nonprofit 501(c)3 organization dedicated to waste reduction and resource conservation in our mountain community. Submit questions to Eartha at

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