My Sustainable-Friendly Valentine’s Day


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Valentine’s Day usually involves chocolates, loved ones, and gifts.

My favourite part about Valentine’s Day is probably the chocolate, especially when it goes on sale after Valentine’s Day and you can get huge packs of chocolate for deeply discounted prices and eat them all by yourself while binge watching your favourite Netflix show. I mean, who has time for an SO when you’ve got 9 seasons of The Office to rewatch?

This year, I opted out of buying cheap chocolates and gifts to try to better support the people who make them. Here’s a little bit about my Sustainable-Friendly Valentine’s Day, with some ideas for next year!

 

  1. Buy fair trade

Did you know that most cocoa farmers in Ghana and Cote d’Ivoire live on less than $1 a day, and many cocoa farmers earn $61 a year? Many farmers live in poverty and cannot afford food, medicine, clean water, or school for their children on this salary.

How can we help? One way to help is to buy fair trade products. Fair trade means providing a living wage for farmers; it means investing in business and community projects for famers and their communities; it means management, governance, and sustainable agriculture education for farmers. Fair trade means a fair deal for farmers.

You can find fair trade products by seeking out the fair trade logo, or just checking out stores such as Ten Thousand Villages (there is one on Locke St), which sell only fair trade products. Some other brands that you may not know are fair trade include Ben & Jerry’s ice cream, Cadbury chocolate, and President’s Choice coffee.

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Faitrade Logo (Source: http://www.fairtrade.ca)

As students, it may be expensive to try to always buy fair trade and ethically sourced products, but we can try to splurge on smaller things, such as chocolates. You can purchase a bar of fair trade chocolate for less than $5, which could mean giving up one bubble tea to help support fair wages for cocoa farmers.

There are a lot of MSU clubs that also have fair trade initiatives. Shout out to WUSC at McMaster for educating me about fair trade and giving me these facts as well as some free fair trade chocolates yesterday!

 

2. Supporting Local Businesses

Another way that I tried to share the love this Valentine’s Day was through supporting local businesses.

Sure, you can buy a pack of chocolates from Shoppers Drug Mart, but Hamilton also has an amazing selection of chocolate shops: Chocolate on James, Ka’kau Chocolate Company on Locke St, Walker’s Chocolates in Westdale to name a few. Not only will you get better quality chocolates, but you will also be supporting a small business.

If you’re not into chocolates, Hamilton also has a huge selection of shops that sell Canadian-made goods. I recently started buying gifts from local shops that sell Canadian products. Some of the stores I’ve bought from recently were Studio 205 and Cherry Birch General. Studio 205 sells Canadian artisan-made goods, and at pretty good prices too! I recently bought a candle for only $15, and they’ll even gift wrap it for you for free (and the gift wrap is so cute)! Cherry Birch General is another café and store just down the street from Studio 205, and they sell all-Canadian products, along with homemade baked goods that could also be packaged as gifts, and you can buy gifts there on average for about $5-20, and they sell anything ranging from unique jams and candies to bath bombs and candles.

Shopping local costs a little bit more, but in my experience, the quality is so much better, and you know you are getting an ethically made product and supporting local entrepreneurs.

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You complete me ❤️

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  1. Making it yourself!

Nothing says “I love you” more than a homemade gift that you poured your time and effort into. The Student Success Centre recently had a make-your-own Valentine’s Day Card event, meaning that you ditch the Dollarama card and make a unique Valentine for your special someone for free instead!

Baking or cooking for your significant other is also a great way to save money and also win over those “food is the way to my heart” people (which, realistically, is most people). Also, it’s so easy to learn how to cook now, with all the recipe videos online and occasional free cooking classes you can find at McMaster (The Student Wellness Centre recently offered free cooking classes in January)!

 

Whether or not you have a Valentine, there are so many ways that you can be sustainable in your choices in order to make an impact. This Valentine’s Day may be over, but in the future, consider supporting local and fair trade. It will be worth it!

 

— Jen

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