For some, February 14th can be more blue than romantic red. In fact, many singletons hide indoors hoping to avoid all the gushy love stuff. While a table for two may not be on the agenda for everyone, who said that Saint Valentine didn’t have friends? Enter Galentine’s Day.
Held the day before or on Valentine’s Day, Galentine’s Day celebrates the importance of having good friends in our lives. And unlike V-Day, Galentine’s Day focuses on what we have, not what we don’t. It is about all of the wonderfully special people in our lives, not just that one special person. Single or attached, Galentine’s Day is the perfect time to celebrate love and friendship including everyone’s bestie – planet earth.
When you know the amount of waste that comes from Valentine’s Day, it can quickly sully the sweetness of the holiday. This day has become highly commercialised, and it is breaking our planet’s heart. Research shows that last year in the US alone, Americans bought more than 36 million heart-shaped boxes, 180 million cards, 198 million roses, 881 thousand bottles of sparkling wine, and 58 million pounds of chocolate on the big day. Which combined, produces more carbon emissions than would be created from driving around the world 3,993 times – now that is not romantic at all.
And just like our friends, the earth should be valued too. So here are five sustainable ways to celebrate Galentine’s Day that also care for the planet.
Volunteer at an animal shelter
There is no purer love than puppy love, and showing some shelter doggies some sugar on Palentine’s Day is the surest way to get a cuddle. Sign up as a group, go visit a shelter, and take the pups out for a walk. K9 Friends encourages volunteers to come and take their furry friends for a romp in the sun. A rewarding way to spend the afternoon as ‘pals’ with some furry friends who will happily smother you in kisses.
From red roses, boxes of chocolates to Hallmark cards, gifts on Valentine’s Day are hardly known to be creative or sustainable. Plants or potted herbs for the kitchen however, are an environmentally friendly gift, as they are reusable, purify the air and compostable!
Every eco-warrior needs a reusable shopping bag, getting some plain jute bags and personalising them – is the gift that keeps giving. And if you are not a crafty person, support local creatives who hand make bags such as Jute Stories in Al Ain or Totes By Jay. On the weekends, you can visit Ripe Market and fill it with local products too.
Looking for a seriously unique way to celebrate Galentine’s Day? Head down to Emirates Biofarm, where you can enjoy their blooming sunflower fields that stretch endlessly under the clear UAE sky. They’ve even put a picturesque swing in the sea of golden petals, the perfect place to capture Instagram-worthy moments with your bestie. While you’re there, explore their farm tours, pick up some locally grown produce and have a delicious green lunch at their on-site restaurant. A day filled with friendship, sustainability and supporting local farmers all at once.
Explore the great outdoors
February in the UAE is still a beautiful time of year, and Galentine’s Day is the perfect excuse to explore the country’s nature spots. Barely an hour drive from Dubai, Wadi Shawka is an idyllic place to set up camp and its hiking trails are highly recommended for all levels. Or for those without camping experience, Al Qudra Lakes is a great place to put up a tent, especially if you and your pals are not seasoned campers. The location is easy to find, there are beautiful views, and you can bring your bikes to go for a groupcycle at sunset – how romantic.
If you and your pals are looking for some more adventure, head to the beautiful Jubail Mangrove Park in Abu Dhabi, and book a Night Glow kayak tour – where your group rows through the mangroves at night.
Nothing says love more than taking care of your body, saving an animal’s life, and doing your part for the planet – so gather the group, and design a sensational vegan menu together. Better yet, grab your new personalised reusable shopping bags and head to the Vegetable Souk where they proudly list their locally sourced fruits and vegetables. Better yet, head out to the Greenheart Farm Shop and go straight to the source. Because buying locally is true love.
Fun with mixology
It may not be two glasses of bubbly, but a mocktail mixology session without excessive waste is the best way to show some love. Alcohol production degrades ecosystems, and by using land to grow crops for alcohol – it reduces food-growing capacity, prioritising non-essential alcohol over essential foods like rice and potatoes. Additionally, the demand for alcohol puts pressure on water supply, just a 500ml bottle of beer uses 148 litres of water.
There are many reasons to trade your cocktail for a mocktail, and a low wastage mocktail – could be your soulmate. Take some of your classic cocktail recipes, and upcycle ingredients in your kitchen, use glassware, paper straws, and coordinate your food recipes with your beverages. For example, ginger is the perfect ingredient in a stir fry as well as a mojito, and the mint leaves will spruce up a fresh salad. You can always freeze any leftover produce to use in smoothies later.