Valentine's Day green gift guide

Have an eco-friendly V-Day in Syracuse with our overview of sustainable and organic treats for your sweetheart — or for your sweet self.

Happy Valentine's Day from Roses are red, violets are blue, and your Valentine’s Day can be green this year with a few smart gift picks.

The lovey-dovey holiday often gets a bad rep for promoting consumerism, but investing in eco-friendly presents can help support local businesses and minimize the waste that comes with traditional V-Day gifts. Ditch those Hallmark cards and the hothouse flowers — they’ll just go in the dump eventually, anyway. Look for organic sweets, fair-trade blooms and go local for your date night. Many great Valentine’s gifts are available right in Syracuse, so you won’t have to pay for shipping or drive all over New York to find the perfect present.

Whether you’re buying for your sweetie or for yourself, picking one of these gifts for Valentine’s Day means you’ll show the Earth some love, too.

Flickr/bloggyboulgaSweet Treats

When else can you eat chocolate and candy for breakfast, lunch and dinner than on Valentine’s Day? No shame there. But before you reach for the box of Sweethearts or the package of heart-shaped Reese’s cups, think about going local for your V-Day sweets. Syracuse boasts several excellent candy makers and bakers, and many of them offer special holiday treats. You may love your Reese’s cups, but give some of these local goodies a try, either for yourself or as a gift. You can’t beat fresh fair-trade brittle or heart-shaped organic macarons.

Sweet Praxis
This local Syracuse bakery offers decadent heart-shaped macarons and mini chocolate and raspberry vanilla cupcakes made with organic ingredients.
The treats are available at the CNY Regional Market on Saturdays from 7 a.m. to 1 p.m. They’re also sold at Café Kubal and the Syracuse Real Food Co-op. 

Better Brittle
Better Brittle makes West-African-style peanut brittle with natural ingredients, including Virginia and Carolina peanuts, fair trade organic evaporated cane juice and sea salt. For Valentine’s Day, Better Brittle is also carrying some great fair trade and/or locally made gifts: recycled glass bead bracelets, baskets and print cards and journals.

You can find Better Brittle’s products at Bluetree, 558 Westcott St. in Syracuse. You can also find the brittle at the CNY Regional Market, Café Kubal, Funk ‘n’ Waffles, Strong Hearts Café and Syracuse Real Food Co-op

Organically Hip
If you’d prefer to make your own V-Day treats, try out Organically Hip’s brownie or chocolate chip cookie mix. “No Fake Stuff” is the motto of the two Syracuse mothers who started the business, and their all-natural, organic mixes do not have any preservatives or chemicals. Find their products at the CNY Regional Market, or on their website.


Red roses scream “Valentine’s Day,” and you may want to buy your loved one a bouquet in honor of the holiday. At this time of the year in Syracuse, there aren’t many places that offer locally-sourced fresh flowers. There is Folls Flower Farm, which grows flowers locally, sustainably and organically. If you’re up for a 40-minute drive to Owasco, you could check out their winter flower offerings.

If you’d prefer to order online, there are several fair-trade, organic flower distributors that offer beautiful bouquets for reasonable prices. Here are the standouts:

One World Flowers offers a large variety of Fair Trade Certified Valentine’s Day rose bouquets, all for about $50. Less-expensive options include smaller rose bouquets for around $30. carries bouquets of red, pink and yellow roses, as well as other flowers, in the $30 to $50 range.

CaliforniaOrganicFlowers will ship flowers via priority mail overnight for $14.95, regardless of location—a good deal for Syracuse, which is almost as far as you can be from California. Valentine’s Day offerings include unusual organic arrangements featuring anemone and narcissus flowers for around $50.

Organic Bouquet carries eco-friendly arrangements with roses, tulips and calla lilies for around $50.

Flickr/javcon117Clothing, Jewelry and Soap

If chocolate and roses aren’t your thing, or if you want to get your valentine something a little more unusual, there are a few places to look for eco-friendly and local clothing, jewelry and soap.

For local clothing and other knick-knacks, try 3fifteen, a thrift store in Marshall Square Mall that offers a wide selection of donated clothing, furniture and accessories for affordable prices. Your purchase won’t leave you broke, and it’ll benefit the Rescue Mission’s efforts to provide people in need with food, shelter and clothing.

You can also hunt for unusual jewelry pieces and designer clothing at EcoChic Boutique in DeWitt.

If you’re looking to pamper your loved one, or yourself, check out K&K Naturals soap, face masks and lotions. The cute Valentine’s Day set of goat’s milk and shea butter soap blocks costs only $8.50. You can order on Etsy, but to avoid shipping costs, you can arrange to pick up the products right in Syracuse.


Even if you’re not getting a gift, you’ve got to get a card to show you care, right? But don’t just go and get one of those cheesy Hallmark cards at CVS or Target, which usually end up in the trash. If you get creative and find something unique, your valentine will want to hold onto your card for the rest of the year. E-cards and donations are another eco-friendly option, and they don’t leave any waste behind. Consider giving some of these cards to your loved one.

This new Syracuse-based letterpress company prints beautiful bamboo paper greeting cards in a print shop powered by wind energy. It’s a tree hugger’s dream: Retail packaging is tree-free, petroleum-free and certified biodegradable, and one percent of Smock’s sales go to environmental causes. Their Valentine’s Day cards feature hippos, sundaes, whales and other quirky, colorful prints.

National Resources Defense Council
The NRDC offers special Valentine’s Day “green gifts” for animal lovers. Pay just $10 to donate to one of its causes, and your loved one will receive an e-card on V-Day featuring the animals you helped with your donation. You can help save wolves in Yellowstone, protect polar bear cubs or preserve an acre of land around the Laguna San Ignacio gray whale nursery, among other options.

Farm Sanctuary
Donate $25 or more in honor of your sweetie to help sponsor a farm animal that has been saved from cruelty. C’mon, what says, “I love you” more than helping a cute little pig?

Flickr/chris_hauDate Night

Experiences can be the best gifts you can give, and if you’re environmentally conscious, they’re the best for the Earth. No packaging, shipping, pesticides or chemicals required, and you don’t have to bust your budget, either. For just $3 per person (and $3 to rent skates), you can go ice skating at the Clinton Square rink. Follow up with dinner or just hot chocolate downtown. Or, grab coffee at Freedom of Espresso in Franklin Square, then stroll the creekwalk from downtown Syracuse to the southern end of Onondaga Lake.


(Images: Flickr users bloggyboulga, yashima, javcon117, campbelj45ca, chris_hau)

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