Sierra's Valentine's Day Gift Guide
21 ways to say “I love you like you love the planet”
It’s that special time of year when you tell loved ones how much they mean to you. Why not express a little love for the natural world while you’re at it?
We scouted out 21 items that say “I see you and your planet-loving, flaming-green streak, and I love it.” From the traditional to the surprising and from sweet little tokens to big splurgy gestures, here are our recommended ways to help you and yours feel the V-Day love this year.
Flowers may be natural and compostable, but consider the fact that Valentine’s Day occurs in the middle of winter—meaning those $2 billion worth of roses Americans are expected to order will have to travel quite a ways. And because flowers are so fragile, they have to be flown and trucked in temperature-controlled planes and trucks. The International Council on Clean Transportation estimated that Valentine's flower delivery flights burn approximately 114 million liters of fuel, emitting nearly 360,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. So why not skip the flowers and arrange to plant some greenery in your loved one’s name instead? CleanChoice Energy has a program through which you can help plant trees in the Mississippi River Valley with the purchase of a $25 gift. It claims that each purchase helps remove one ton of carbon pollution from the atmosphere. Is there any better way to say “I love you” than to give back to the planet the object of your affection calls home?
Fact: the climate issue is a democracy issue. Also, few things are sexier in 2020 than participatory democracy. If your main squeeze has high hopes for November, they’ll love this super-soft tee ($28) from Boredwalk. The artist-owned company—which uses eco-friendly, water-based inks to create quirky, one-of-a-kind apparel—supports social justice organizations including She Should Run, Planned Parenthood, and the ACLU.
Does your flame love music? Cooking? Both? Good news—the founder of Taylor Guitars has landed on a great use for those pieces of cut ebony that don’t end up fitting the precise specifications necessary to craft a guitar or violin: exotic cutting boards. Bob Taylor recently launched a line of premium kitchen woodcrafts made from legally and ethically sourced West African ebony. The sales of Stella Falone boards ($129 to $199) not only help sustain living wages in Cameroon but also help preserve the rainforest by supporting a community-based ebony replanting program.
Why not treat your live-in Valentine to some classic, alfresco comfort via the gift of the Vineyard Adirondack 48" Swing ($329) from Polywood? This sweet porch swing was built for two out of recycled plastic milk jugs. It’s proven to withstand the hot sun, snowy winters, and strong coastal winds and cleans easily with soap and water. What's more, it was born in the USA in a 99-percent-landfill-free facility.
In the words of the creator of those charming comics your adventure-loving boos have probably shown you on Instagram, “Bears do not care how many likes your bikini selfie got. Bears do not care if the grocery store was out of your favorite almond milk. Did you drop your phone and crack the screen? Don’t go looking for a bear to commiserate with you.” Beyond his wildly popular graphs (featured on Semi-Rad.com), climber/runner/cyclist/backpacker Brendan Leonard is known for his wry, big-hearted, and often self-deprecating words about what it really means to adventure in our rapidly changing, hyper-connected world. For a series of pithy pieces about the pleasures, pains, and wonderful absurdities of outdoor culture, look no further than Leonard's aptly titled new book, Bears Don’t Care About Your Problems: More Funny Shit in the Woods From Semi-Rad.com ($19 from Mountaineers Books).
Pragmatism and romance have been known to join forces in the ultra-soft bath towel department. Macy’s Ultimate Micro Cotton Hotel Collection features plush towels woven from long-staple cotton in renewable-energy-fueled facilities. Available in a range of pastels and jewel tones, you can pick out a set of six ($73) in your love’s favorite color.
Give the gift of vintage apres ski or swim luxury in the form of robes as revelrous as they are functional. The La Sirena Kimono (for women) and koi-fish-inspired El Garibaldi Yukata Robe (for men) from California Cowboy costs $148 and comes lined with super-soft terry, plus back pockets big enough for champagne bottles (hers) and beer (his). They’re pretty much guaranteed to elevate your loved one’s lounging game.
Sometimes the best Valentine is your furry, four-legged love machine. Good news—the upcycled sail-cloth artisans behind Sea Bags have just the present for you and Fido. The very fetching Love Paw Print Bucket Bag ($45) is printed on durable, washable recycled sails and designed to keep everything your pet loves (think toys, food, travel essentials) in one place. (Bonus: It's also cute enough to double as a picnic basket for pet-loving lovahs.)
Not only does MADI Apparel make underwear, sleepwear, athleisure, and other daily staples from replenishable viscose bamboo, but they’re essentially the Toms Shoes of underwear—for every garment purchased, MADI donates a new pair of panties to a domestic violence shelter, homeless shelter, or rape crisis center (that's because underwear tops the list of their partner organizations’ urgent needs). These high-end garments ($28 to $155) come in a range of styles and colors. They’re self-wicking, naturally antimicrobial, and quick-drying (meaning women in need can hand-wash and hang-dry overnight). It all makes for a great way to give an intimate gift that gives back.
Show you care by keeping bae’s noggin warm. Appalachian Gear Company crafts cozy beanies ($28) out of alpaca fibers. Lightweight, highly insulating, breathable, and machine-washable, these pretty hats naturally keep moisture and odors at bay. Plus, Appalachian Gear Company is committed to plastic-free packaging.
You can keep the rest of your Valentine huggably warm with help from Prana’s supersoft fleece Permafrost Vest ($89). Made from 100-percent-recycled polyester and available in three colors, this stylish piece comes with ski-lift-pass-sized pockets, a fuzzy hood, and a sporty zip front.
The only thing more romantic than silk sheets? Why, 100 percent organic ones made from eucalyptus, of course. The experience of sleeping in Eucalypto sheet sets (which start at $139) has been described as being “cocooned in a cat’s ear.” Eucalyptus Tencel fibers naturally prevent the growth of bacteria and wick moisture and can keep your Valentine cool all night long.
Is your better half one of those Valentines who already has everything? For an alternative to luscious bouquets, look no further than East Street Hive’s botanical, buttery soft, and 100-percent-hand-dyed silk scarves ($35 to $99). These versatile and elegant creations (the handiwork of a professional fiber artist) can be worn as scarves, shawls, headwraps, and headbands. These intricate and unique garments come packaged with a short story and a thoughtful tea pairing.
Good news for nature-loving lovers: The Worldkind Habitat Collection has a range of attractive, certified-organic tees (starting at $30) made from recycled materials (and in the USA) that were inspired by the greatest threat to biodiversity: habitat loss. They’ll help promote powerful messages to rally protection for the places most impacted by climate change and industrial development.
Jewelry tends to make for a foolproof V-Day present. Give a gift with an ocean-friendly twist this year with the Super Coral Bracelet ($25), which is made from abandoned fishing nets (retrieved by scuba divers before they can tangle and suffocate dolphins, sea turtles, and seals), vegan glue, and magnetic clasps. For every bracelet purchased, the Super Coral Project will plant one coral in your loved one’s name. How’s that for posterity?
The earth probably craves trees for V-Day too! The bag-crafters behind Solo New York just debuted their Re:cycled Collection. Each stylish mini backpack ($25), tote ($55), and duffel ($65) repurposes plastic from three to eight plastic bottles, keeping them out of landfills and waterways. What’s more, Solo has partnered with the National Forest Foundation to plant a tree for every bag sold. Each bag is born in a solar-powered facility and shipped to your loved one in a recycled, corrugated cardboard box.
Your super sig-O deserves some superfoods—and so does their skin! The eminently plant-powered Super Sensitive Skin Stuff ($49) cream from Graydon Skincare is made from Canadian maple sap water (a great source of natural hydration and nutrients), antioxidant rosehip seed oil, evening primrose, and black currant, skin-strengthening pomegranate oil, and botanical ceramides. It’s a luxurious-yet-pragmatic gift for any lover, regardless of skin type (it's actually especially good for those with sensitive or reactive skin). We guarantee this stuff will leave giftees feeling scrumptiously velvety.
Attention turtle fans: For a tax-deductible $56 donation to the Sea Turtle Conservancy, you can adopt a sea turtle for a loved one. They’ll receive everything they need to learn about their new turtle friend, including a personalized adoption certificate, a sea turtle conservation guide, stickers, a bookmark and hatchling magnet, and a one-year subscription to STC’s membership publication, all in a keepsake sea turtle folder. It’s a festive present too—they’ll also get a turtle plushie and a special V-Day magnet frame. Recipients can either name their own turtle or choose to follow one of STC’s 35+ satellite-tracked and already-named turtles online. You and bae can both keep track of where they’re swimming at all times by checking migration maps.
Are you in love with a birder? Or is your main squeeze a devoted sea otter spotter, sports fan, or spy? Built to live on your better half’s car dash or in their back pocket, Nocs ($89) are rugged, compact, waterproof, fogproof travel binoculars that come with a handy rubber grip. Nocs offer the visual equivalent of a 400 mm camera lens and come in a plastic-free, post-consumer recycled shipper box and also include a drawstring pouch, neck strap, and lens cloth.
For a gift that keeps giving, look no further than AeroGarden’s new Bounty countertop gardening system ($250). The self-contained, LED-lit indoor garden can grow nine plants at a time and requires no sun, soil, space, nor green thumb. It features dozens of smartphone options that’ll help your loved one make vegetables, herbs, and flowers flourish all year. AeroGarden systems come in a variety of colors, and they’re guaranteed to germinate non-GMO, preseeded pods.
Time spent on the water together is not only a great way to connect with a partner but also bolsters all our relationships with nature and stewardship of our waterways. Splurge on the gift of the Haven Tandem Kayak ($1,999) from Oru for a loved one and you’ll also be giving yourself the gift of getting to spend more time with your favorite paddler. Oru’s origami-inspired lightweight boats (the Haven is only 40 pounds) are made from corrugated plastic and fold down to fit inside duffels for easy transport. The Haven also features a rail system that accommodates a variety of sidewall mounts for fishing equipment, cameras, and GPS units. This V-Day, float on.