Don’t Go Wasting Your Love

Published: February 11, 2020

by Irene Kaloyannis, Science and Policy Exchange (SPE)

Valentine’s Day is around the corner, bringing with it a lot of plastic chocolate boxes, floral bouquets and paper cards to be read once and disposed of. Personally, I believe Valentine’s Day is right up there with the most wasteful holidays, which is why I’ve always been more of a fan of gifting experiences to my Valentines rather than material possessions. Whether you’re spending this Valentine’s Day with a long-term partner, a new romantic interest, some friends or with family, here are some super fun low-waste activities.

1. A visit to the Planetarium

I first got this idea from the 1996 Friends episode “The One Where Ross and Rachel… You Know”, when I first binge-watched the show. I remember thinking this was the most romantic date idea I’d ever heard of. I couldn’t wait to recreate it! Sure enough, it was romantic, informative and fun. On Valentine’s Day only, the Rio Tinto Alcan Planetarium will be giving out free hot chocolate, be sure to bring a reusable cup!

2. Cooking for Each Other

There’s a lot of creative liberty that can be taken with this one. For example, you can have a Valentine’s Day-themed, low-waste potluck with your friends, or show appreciation for your family one night by preparing minimal-waste versions of their favorite dishes.

Love themed Mana’ish and cinnamon dessert my co-editor Maïa made.

In my last semester of Cegep, my date took me to a grocery store under the guise that he was getting groceries, and I sat in the cart and selected items that I liked. Then, when we arrived at his apartment, he tried to cook a meal using only the ingredients I’d selected. If you’re culinarily gifted, this could be a very sweet idea, especially if you take your date to a farmer’s market or other stores where most food items can be purchased without packaging (e.g. Mega Vrac).

3. Ice Skating

Skating is the perfect winter activity for groups of all sizes, and there are so many places to do it in Montreal! My personal favorites are Beaver Lake and the Old Port. The only waste produced by this date would be the ticket they print for your jacket, but I like to keep those for the memories!

4. Visiting a museum or art gallery

Montreal is one of the artistic capitals of the world. Every major street in the city is filled with avant-garde art galleries, fascinating historical museums, and cultural centres. One of my go-to ideas when I’m meeting up with friends is to go “gallery-hopping”. Some interesting museum expos going on right now can be found listed here (HideSeek is a cute one too, even though it’s more like an art gallery). I often prefer gallery-hopping to museum-hopping because galleries are free to enter.

5. Spa Day

A timeless date idea for all ages and groups, with locations all over the city, is the spa. Remember to bring your own robe and flip-flops so they don’t give you disposable ones!

6. Antiquing

I will be the first to say that antiquing can be for everyone! I actually got this idea from the movie 500 Days of Summer, because I’ve always loved the scene where Tom and Summer furniture shopping at Ikea. In recent years, Ikea has faced criticism over the source of its wood, so antiquing and secondhand shopping is a much more sustainable alternative. I recommend the shops on Notre-Dame Street — even if you and your Valentine are not looking for furniture, they have all kinds of interesting nicknacks that make shopping a fun time.

7. Support local zero-waste businesses

Montreal has been one of the cities leading the charge in Canada in the fight to become environmentally-friendly. Some restaurants that strive to be zero-waste include the cafe Le 5ieme, the Green Panther restaurants (which have the best falafels in the city, in my opinion) and the pub La Cale.

These are just a couple of Valentine’s Day plans that I’ve really enjoyed, but if there was something specific you had in mind, you can always try to just make slight adjustments to make it less wasteful. For example, if you plan on purchasing something specific for your partner, perhaps you could find it secondhand, or if you planned on taking them to a concert, perhaps you could arrange to take public transportation there and avoid buying snacks from the counter. However you choose to celebrate, I hope it is filled with love, laughter, and fun!