Valentine’s Day is the day we use to express our love and devotion to our special someone. Unfortunately, the celebration of love has been dubbed a “Hallmark” holiday, thus resulting in plenty of waste. There are, of course, numerous ways to show your sweetheart how much you care, while being easy on the Earth. We have put together an ethical gift guide from the beginning of your date to the end and beyond!

1) The Pre-Date: When you show up on the doorstep of your love or meet them in a fancy restaurant, you want to be prepared with an “opening gift.” Traditionally, this includes flowers, cards, and chocolates. Luckily, there is a way to come prepared with all three and still be ethical. For flowers, look for Fair Trade roses and organic mixed bouquets. You can find these flowers at Whole Foods, local co-ops, and online at sites such as Organic Style. Chocolates also come Fair Trade, organic, and vegan. There are a lot of specialty ethical chocolates and truffles such as Sjaack’s, Equal Exchange, and  Coco-Zen. The most green way to give cards, is not to give them at all. But if you really want to write a love note to your special one, try making a card yourself out of recycled material or old photos, write a song, or send an e-card.

2) The Drinks: For most romantic evenings, wine and cocktails are a must. When you are choosing your wine this year, be sure to stick to organic wines. With the lack of sulfites, these wines will not only impress your green sweetie, but leave your head loving you in the morning. Organic wineries such as Frey, are carried at many natural foods stores, Whole Foods, and even at certain bars and restaurants. Etica is also the first Fair Trade wine and will also impress a socially conscious sweetheart. If cocktails are more your thing, there are now plenty of organic and Fair Trade spirits on the market. We have a great backlog of Organic and Fair Trade Cocktail Recipes.

3) The Food: If you are staying in for the night, make a great meal with organic and local food. You will also want to hold off on the meats. We also have a ton of vegan recipes for all courses of a meal. But not everyone stays in for the holiday and luckily eco-friendly and vegan restaurants are all the rage these days. Make sure you take your date to an ethical eatery. If you are looking for organic or eco-friendly try the Green Restaurant Guide and for vegan restaurants look to Happy Cow.

4) The Big Gift: Sometimes you want to pull all the stops out on Valentine’s Day. If you want to give a big gift, such as jewelry, you have plenty of eco options. For something cute and simple, check out these great recycled gift options on World of Good and fair trade jewels on Global Exchange. If you really want to do something BIG, go for eco-friendly diamonds or recycled gold necklaces.

5) The Bedroom: If all goes as planned, your night might end up with a Do Not Disturb sign hanging from your handle. For some eco-fun in the bedroom try giving your significant other some organic lingerie and undies. You will want to decorate with organic and soy candles. And in case things get a little more intense for the celebration you can find some fun toys at Earth Erotics. Oo la la…

6) The Weekend: It is possible that you want to give your guy or gal more than just a night of love to celebrate your relationship. How about taking them to an eco-friendly hotel or resort. For some listings, check out the Green Hotel Association. There are also really cute and quaint vegetarian and vegan bed & breakfasts throughout the country. Just be sure you get there through alternative transportation such as bike, rail, or bus!


With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, one can almost taste delicious mouth-watering chocolate. In modern times chocolate has become more than just a delicacy, but a staple of the American diet and some would even say it is healthy for you. And who would argue with that? However, as some of you may know the Chocolate industry is less than ethical in many ways. Over the past several years many independent companies have popped up with great solutions to this problem such as Organic and Fair Trade certified chocolate. On top of the smaller companies more and more large companies have also pledged to produce chocolate with these criteria, including the very recent announcement by Green & Black (owned by Cadbury)in which all their worldwide chocolate, including the US will be Fair Trade certified.

And even the big cats are starting to make serious changes. Last year, the Fair Trade world was pleased to hear that Cadbury Dairy Milk (0wner of Green & Black), the leading UK Chocolate company would begin producing all their cocoa through Fair Trade certified means. Everyone rejoiced and hoped such a move would influence major US chocolate players to make the same changes. And then came January 2010.

It was announced that US giant, Kraft bought out Cadbury in a high profile business exchange.  The Fair Trade camp gasped with concern about the pledge Cadbury had just made. Would such a huge US Corporation source ethically? Would they hold true to Cadbury’s commitments? Or would all the progress be lost? Fortunately, Kraft has stated they will hold up the ethical sourcing of cocoa, as Cadbury had pledged to do.

One collective sigh for us fair-traders! However, as history has proved before, word is not always action. Will Kraft keep this decision up even if it means higher sourcing costs? One way to be sure, let them know exactly how you feel. has set up a quick and easy way to write Kraft to let them know, as consumers, you want to see them stick to their ethics. We don’t want to watch another great step forward fall flat on its face! So take a moment to take some action and demand Fair Trade standards. And don’t just stop there, make a choice yourself to purchase only Fair Trade chocolate.

Even though purchasing a dollar-or-two chocolate bar may not seem like its making a difference, think of the message you, as a consumer, are sending, as well as the impact your contribution will have on the workers. Next time you are choosing your sweetie their heart-shaped chocolates, think of those who produced them and make the ethical choice.

-Gina Williams

UPDATE: Our contacts at Transfair have asked us to share the following information with you.  A representative from Cadbury has assured Transfair that the Kraft buyout of Cadbury and Green & Black will not affect the Fair Trade certification of the cocoa used. In fact, a spokesperson for Kraft stated, “…we will of course respect Cadbury and Green & Black’s Fairtrade commitments. Cadbury and Green & Black’s have proud histories in ethical sourcing and if our offer is successful we look forward to maintaining this heritage.”  Looks like all is well in the Fair Trade world! Thank you to Transfair providing us with this information. 

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