Although Valentine’s Day can be a love-hate holiday for many, in the U.S. alone over 120 million adults celebrating Valentine’s Day spend over $25 billion¹ on a variety of tokens to show their love. Favorite gifts include a total of 180 million cards, nearly 200 million roses, over 880,000 bottles of sparkling drinks, and nearly 60 million pounds of chocolate.² And let’s not forget jewelry, although a more durable item than many of the others. Crazy, isn’t it? That doesn’t even include all of the children’s cards, treats, and decorations that are purchased for this special day

With another Valentine’s Day in the books, while we might still be riding the waves of love a week later, the environmental impact from this celebration can be significant. The good news is Americans can be more sustainable in our approach to Valentine’s Day. Let’s show the environment some love.

Gifts such as flowers, cards, bubbly drinks, and candy may have a shorter life than, say, jewelry, but all can have an environmental impact through their raw materials sourcing, inputs to grow or process, transportation, and finally distribution and sale. As with anything else, conscious consumerism can ease the impacts of items purchased both in terms of how they are made and planning for their end-of-life management. Since this special day is behind us for 2024, we will focus on tips to plan for future consumer choices, as well as on managing some of the shorter-lived gifts achieve the best end-of-life outcomes (meaning let’s avoid landfilling if possible).

A few tips for conscious consumerism and end-of-life management:

  • Buy Local. Flowers and cocoa fit well into this category, but buying local is a great practice to follow for all purchasing if possible.
  • Human Labor. Consider where products are made and the people that are making them, to ensure workers are being treated fairly. One way to support worker welfare is buy products that are Fair Trade Certified.³
  • Sustainable Waste Management. Following the rule of “reduce, reuse, and recycle” becomes easier if items are consciously purchased with waste in mind. But regardless, there are ways to better manage our V-day gifts than landfilling. Consider reusing cards or other trinkets for craft projects, or donate to a school. Recycle or compost if possible. It is important to follow your community recycling program guidelines to make sure items don’t contaminate your recycling or compost bin.⁴

On the retail side, stores may want to consider ordering less perishable inventory, like cut flowers and chocolates, before V-day. Surprisingly, cut flowers have a significant environmental impact, due to distance transported, the chemical, water, and land usage, and little regulatory oversight.⁵ Prior to the holiday, flowers that don’t fit the Valentine’s profile, such as blue and yellow, will be disposed of to allow for the holiday inventory to arrive. This unnecessary waste can be avoided by a bit of planning ahead.


Did you know? In addition to food waste, Denali can recycle cut flowers, plants from garden centers, and landscaping materials as part of our comprehensive service offering for organic wastes. Contact us to learn more.

  1. National Retail Federation:
  2. Waste360: The Environmental Impact of Valentine’s Day (
  3. Reuters:
  4. The Recycling Partnership.
  5. World Resources Institute: