Valentine’s Day has just passed and was celebrated by couples, friends, lots of galentines, and
Hope Advocates for Sustainability (HAS). You may be thinking: “What… Hope Advocates for
Sustainability?” Yes! HAS put on a spectacular event right before break to send Hope College
into the Valentine’s Day Spirit.
Valentine’s Day is filled with consumers buying gifts that range from chocolates to flowers to
cards and everything in between. 36 million heart-shaped boxes are sold each year, 250 million
roses are produced for Valentine’s Day, and 145 million cards are bought brand new each year
for Valentine’s Day. As a result, there is an abundance of consumerism that results in an
abundance of garbage.
HAS is aiming to change the narrative. HAS held a table in the Bultman Student Center (BSC)
in which they collected old recycled books that the library was going to throw away as well as
recycled magazines to create valentines… recycled valentines that is!
Dozens of students stopped to make black-out book poems, paper flowers out of old
newspapers, envelopes out of magazine pages, and gift boxes from old cereal boxes. Lots of
valentines made with no trash involved! Trash was actually saved and used to spread love to
friends, family, and significant others. In addition to this, there was a station of sustainable
Valentine’s Day date ideas such as going on a bike ride or hike, stargazing, visiting the beach,
and enjoying a zero-waste picnic.
HAS members spoke on why it is important to be sustainable during Valentine’s Day. They
spoke of the high commercialization involved that results in extreme levels of trash every year
from almost all of the most common Valentine’s Day gifts. People spend money on producing
millions of Valentine’s Day products that are then bought and thrown into the trash. HAS
explains that there are actually many resources around us where we can make our own
Valentine’s Day cards or homemade presents, which simultaneously shows greater effort and
love than just simply buying something from the store.
HAS explains that this involves Hope’s Campus too. Sustainability is important on Hope’s
campus because it will actually generate greater savings for college students. If Hope cuts down
on waste, that means a reduction in campus waste, clean-up time and resources, and thus an
ultimately cheaper and cleaner campus for the entire student body and community.
Valentine’s Day is a day to show love to those around you and one way to do this is to love the
Earth while you are doing it! Make your best friend a card from an old magazine, make your
girlfriend a cake at home, or make your boyfriend a painting!
Hope Advocates for Sustainability celebrating Valentine’s Day with recycled materials in the BSC on Feb. 9, 2023 (Photo credit: Hope College Sustainability Instagram page)