16 Ways to Say "I Love You Like You Love the Planet"
Sierra’s Valentine’s Day Gift Guide
It’s almost that special time of year when you let your loved ones know how much they mean to you. Why not express a little love for the natural world while you’re at it? We scouted out items intended to help both you and your significant other reignite your passion for the natural world and adventure. From the traditional to the surprising, here are Sierra’s 16 recommended ways to set the Earth-loving mood in 2018.
While flowers may be the quintessential romantic gesture, no environmentalist likes to trash them a few days after Valentine’s Day. Which is why Kyla O’Neill, the jewelry designer behind Impressed By Nature, started harvesting roses, geraniums, baby’s breath, dogwood, and many more florals and leaves from her garden on a seasonal basis, naturally preserving them in wooden flower presses, and crafting them into singular pieces of durable jewelry (items range from $28 to $68). What’s more, all Impressed packaging is made from salvaged or recycled materials. Truly impress your beloved with the gift of her or his favorite flower—immortalized and made wearable. Or, play it safe and classically romantic with the best-selling rose Fuchsia & White Rose Pressed Flower Earrings ($40) or Necklace (pictured, $58).
For a new spin on the trusty old box of chocolates, consider serving up a frothy mug of rich, decadent “Spooning Chocolate.” CocoaCanard bills its upscale cocoa (made from real, melted dark chocolate) as “the only hot chocolate for consenting adults.” Aside from its subtly spoony suggestiveness, it is fair trade and free of soy, GMOs, gluten, and dairy. The chocolatiers behind CocoaCanard carefully age their beans before slow-roasting and blending them in small batches with real vanilla to create a complex range of chocolate pastilles. Instruct giftees to melt two to three into hot water or, for an instant cafe mocha, coffee. We recommend the Spooning Chocolate Gift Set ($20), which comes with a can of Spooning Chocolate, a mini-molinillo (or South American whisk), a Spooning Mug, and, so you can personalize your gift just so, a stationery gift card and envelope. Because there’s no ritual quite like a chocolate ritual.
How to express your appreciation of a Great Outdoors–loving better half who doesn’t like to get bogged down with too much stuff? You can’t go wrong with the handy and unique token that is coasters or magnets designed to honor her or his favorite national park. The artists behind Nine Day Weekend have creatively interpreted each park as a simple pictogram meant to evoke its marquee features, such as an alligator-shaped graphic for the Everglades and a soaring geyser for Yellowstone. All of Nine Day Weekend’s designs are available as laser-cut cork, white melamine laminate beverage coasters ($7.50 each), or birchwood magnets ($5 each, pictured). We suggest collecting your beloved’s favorites by region, or mixing and matching to commemorate a road trip.
For a wellness-oriented gift that says “I love you and your biome,” look no further than Mother Dirt skin care. Designed to restore essential bacteria to skin, all products are gender-neutral, plant-based, preservative-free, unfragranced, and suitable for all skin types. They’re also intended to sync skin the way Mother Nature intended it, and thus improve appearance and resilience within two weeks of use—addressing sensitivity, blotchiness, roughness, oiliness, and dryness. The Mother Dirt bundle ($99) contains moisturizer, shampoo, face and body cleanser, and AO+ mist—in sizes ideal for camping and other forms of travel.
Nothing says “I love you” like being handed a hot, fresh cup of joe in the backcountry. The compact, stainless-steel Field Barista Set (about $315) from Snowpeak is composed of a pour-over coffee drip, grinder, and kettle—all of which nestle nicely together in an accompanying travel case for easy packing. Ideal for coffee snobs unwilling to compromise quality no matter where their adventures take them, this set disassembles into six separate pieces.
Or, perhaps your adventure-coveting sweetie would prefer the al fresco luxury of cold, frothy beer. Look no further than TrailKeg ($199), a 128-ounce, vacuum-insulated pressurized growler that keeps craft beer and homebrew cold for 24 hours and carbonated for weeks on end. Does your better half like winter camping? TrailKeg also keeps bevs like coffee, tea, and cider hot for up to 12 hours. Its stainless-steel construction renders it virtually indestructible—a trusty companion for beer-loving adventures.
It you find sunsets romantic, check out the latest from Rumpl—a compressible, lightweight camp blanket with a weather-resistant nylon shell. Made from sustainably sourced and 600-count gray duck down, the Baja Fade Puffy ($249) is 1.5 pounds, ideal for 40+-degree weather, and comes with a cool design that fades from bright orange to deep purple (it was, after all, designed in the image of a Baja California sunset), guaranteed to imbue your valentine campsite with whimsy.
Speaking of cozy, sleepwear always makes for a safe—and lovely—gift. Even more so when PJs are made from organic cotton and viscose (a material made from bamboo), which helps to regulate body temperature. Aventura Clothing, a family-owned company based in the Sierra Nevada, partners with Uncommon Threads, an organization that provides domestic violence survivors with clothing. They’ve got several pajama sets made from ecofriendly fabrics and crafted in fair-trade-certified factories. Check out the fetching Slumber Pajama Top ($20) and Polka Dot Short ($22).
Remember, V-Day is for the whole family, and alpaca is hypoallergenic, incredibly soft, never itchy, and won’t irritate sensitive skin. Surhilo sells luxurious, naturally stretchy hats and head warmers for women, men, and kids that are crafted from sustainable alpaca fiber sourced in Peru. The company’s mission is to promote high-quality products made with organic materials while also supporting female artisans in South America. The tykes you love will look ear-resistible in this naturally cozy and water-resistant children’s hat ($32).
Perhaps the babies you hold dear would love a “hearty” rattle to play with? The solid beechwood Blooming Heart Clutching Toy ($13) from Haba features five heart shapes, strung together on a sturdy cord. The best part is, each rotates to mimic the motion of a flower in bloom. This unique toy is made in Germany and colored with a nontoxic, water-based stain.
Sometimes, there’s no better valentine than a furry, four-legged valentine. Imbue a favorite canine’s ball game with some delicious love this V-Day with the super-durable and outdoors-friendly Orbee-Tuff “Heart Nook” ($14) from Planet Dog. This toy’s shape was made to be stuffed with peanut butter, cheese, or your dog’s preferred treat, which will help keep Fido occupied while you’re out on date night.
Candlelight is romantic, sure. But for true lovers of the earth, regular old votives won’t hold a candle to soy-based, hand-poured ones that are packed in pretty ceramic containers, with labels made from wildflower seeds—meaning giftees can re-use the packaging to plant a little garden. The green thumbs behind Hyggelight Candles created the “The Growing Candle,” available in a range of shapes and scents ($25 to $30), out of the belief that taking care of and regenerating the planet should be a regular part of life, rather than a compartmentalized hobby. Their candles are intended to inspire people to slow down, be present, and take an active role as stewards of Earth.
There’s no gift more Zen than a carbon-negative yoga mat. Form makes rectangular and round mats from recycled rubber that are biodegradable, and claims to offset more than the carbon produced during their production and transportation (a U.K.-based company, Form ships to all U.S. locations). The green-minded yogis in your life will love these designs, many of which were inspired by beautiful corners of Earth—the oceans, the topics, iconic constellations, and much more. These mats start around $75.
Is your beloved an alpine adventurer? An urban explorer? They’ll likely be smitten with the stylish-as-they-are-sporty new 002 performance sunglasses from Vuarnet ($205). This classic cat eye has a retro '80s vibe and deep roots in skiing lore—Jean Vuarnet wore this style when he won at the 1960 Winter Olympics in Squaw Valley, California.
Did you know that ancient alchemists endeavored to turn common metals into gold in a quest to cultivate human purity and virtue? America’s only certified fair trade gold jeweler, Santa Fe, New Mexico’s Reflective Jewelry, created its popular Heart Pendant ($279) with environmentally conscious valentines in mind. Made from recycled silver and fair trade gold, this piece features intricately woven knot work, gently overlaid atop a solid gold foundation.
Of course, if you’re in a position to really splurge this V-Day, the best gift for any adventurer is always, well, an unforgettable adventure. Luxury adventure travel outfit Abercrombie & Kent created Sanctuary Retreats in 2000 just for vacationers who are passionate about wildlife conservation. Their wilderness properties are located in areas of outstanding natural beauty and developed with sensitivity to the surrounding environment, local people, and indigenous culture—and vacationers are provided with guides trained to scout out, yet minimally disturb, local wildlife. Meaning you and your beloved could find yourselves safely tracking wildebeests in Mandalay, gorillas in Uganda, or elephants in the Serengeti. It also makes for a great way to boost local economies—at a number of Sanctuary Retreats properties, the land on which the camp/lodge is situated still belongs to the community. At one Kenyan site, for instance, the local Maasai landlords receive a payment, per guest, per night, as well as a rental fee for the land. Plus, lodging is constructed with local materials, conforming to the area’s architectural and cultural standards. Trips are fully customizable and start as low as $525 in the off season.