By Rob and Maria
Love is in the air! Or at least, a holiday meant to produce showy displays of love is in the air.
We can’t sound too cynical, though. We’re probably that annoying mushy couple who makes you gag on Facebook (Maria: mainly because you’re adorable. Rob: ugh). On the flipside, just because it’s Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean you have to break the bank or go wild with buying more stuff just to fit in with the modern trend. Instead, you can go green for Valentine’s Day! We thought up a few fun suggestions if you would like to show someone you care in a novel and more Earth-friendly way. Many of these suggestions are specific to Pittsburgh, but no matter where you live, I bet you can find something comparable.
Adopt an Animal Symbolically
Maria would adopt all of the puppies if she could (Rob: No really, she would), but maybe you’re like us and a bit limited on menagerie space. Instead of bringing home a real panda, we’ve “adopted” several animals through conservation programs that support wildlife, and these adoptions make great gifts!
Our first adopted baby was a juvenile loggerhead sea turtle from the Loggerhead MarineLife Center, a sea turtle rescue and rehabilitation facility in Juno Beach, Florida. Technically, this one was a gift from the center when they saw the giddy review I left on their Facebook page after our honeymoon (they even included us in their newsletter!), but it started us down the path of supporting conservation organizations through symbolic adoptions. Most recently, my sister and her fiancé gifted us the adoption of two killer whales from the Southern Residents of the Salish Sea and Pacific Ocean, and we’ve also adopted from the World Wildlife Fund. Most organizations send you pictures of your species, occasionally a reusable shopping bags or t-shirts, and you typically receive a newsletter to keep you in the loop. The real gift, though, is supporting something that you care about.
Who needs “new” diamonds and gold for Valentine’s Day? The metal and rocks are all old anyway! Vintage chic is the way to go. Check out antique stores for classic bracelets, necklaces, rings, earrings, and tiaras (um, yes…everyone needs a good tiara.) Pittsburgh has hidden little antique stores all over the city, including Mahla & Co. Antiques in the Strip District, Kazloff and Meaders in Shadyside, or Pittsburgh Antique Shops in Castle Shannon.
A number of local artisans also make new jewelry from old materials. AI Jewelry, for example, makes stunning works out of recycled silver and gold and bel monili makes all sorts of sparkling fun from upcycled materials. In addition, stores like The Store at Contemporary Craft and The Shop at Pittsburgh Center for the Arts often carry the bejeweled and bedazzled works of artisans who specialize in sustainable materials. In the city, though, nothing really comes close to the gift shop at Phipps Conservatory. They are incredibly stringent about the products they will sell, ensuring most products are made in the USA, sustainably produced, and made from environmentally friendly materials. Whether you’re looking at their selection of jewelry or…heck, soap…you really can’t go wrong!
It exists. You’re welcome. (Rob: Ugh…)
Experiences as Gifts
The perfect present doesn’t always fit in a box. Maybe the best Valentine’s Day gift for you and that ♥special someone♥ is a day trip to a state park or winter picnic lunch (tomato soup, baguettes and cheese, and a thermos of hot spiced wine…you win the day!) Or perhaps a night out to see the Pittsburgh Ballet or the Pittsburgh Symphony sounds like a magical evening, or maybe a trip to a museum or art gallery. If you’re a bit more adventurous, there is an axe throwing place in Milvale, or you could sign up to take a glass blowing or organic cooking class together. The lasting gift will be the memory of a fabulous day together—no wrapping paper or bows needed!
When in Doubt, Keep it Local
If you’re thinking flowers and chocolates are still the best way to go for you and your boo, support local businesses like Mon Aimee Chocolates in the Strip District and flower shops like Hepatica in Regent Square. To take the movement one step further, you can check a few labels to make sure you’re buying wildlife-friendly chocolate, and you can opt for potted plants, since the floral industry isn’t always the most sustainable.
These are all just a few suggestions to get the creative ideas brewing. You know what would work well for you, and we would love to hear your thoughts and suggestions for gift ideas outside of Valentine’s Day.
P.S. And you know what, if you’re single—Treat. Your. Self. You rock the globe enough that you don’t want to deal with subpar dating options. That deserves all the sustainably-produced chocolate.