Valentine’s Day is on the horizon. And no, it’s not a “fake holiday started by card companies to make a buck.”
This sweet little celebratory day commemorates love — LOVE — love, the heart of human connection.
Valentine’s practices trace their roots to a few different figures in antiquity who were known for their devotion, selflessness, or compassion. Commemorating those figures began with February 14th being declared “St. Valentine’s Day” in the 5th century. That kicked off one of those things people just enjoy — a feast day in the language of saints, or a festival day or holiday to everyone else.
Well it caught on and eventually, around the 14th century, lovers started sending handmade “valentines” to their adored ones. By the 18th century you could even buy pre-made ones.
So you can’t blame Hallmark for jumping on that bandwagon. Nor can you blame people today for totally getting into it. Folks have enjoyed exchanging valentines for 1,600 years. That’s tradition!
Anyway, as a diehard romantic myself, as well as a Christian — “God is love” is a central understanding of the Christian faith — I’m all in on Valentine’s Day.
You can read a little of its legend and history here if you don’t believe me.
A Green Valentine’s Day
Meantime you might be wondering what is the ultimate sustainable gift that you can get for that special person who makes your heart go aflutter?
And to that I’ll say that outside of buying nothing, or picking up a beautiful pinecone or seashell to express your love, sourcing vintage goods is always going to be your #1 most sustainable gift option.
Why is that?
Glad you asked…
Vintage items ask nothing new out of any earth resources — no new water drawdowns, no fossil fuels for manufacturing, no chemical inputs, no other raw materials. At least as far as their production goes. But this is still huge.
Stuff made over 20 years ago has what’s called “embedded energy,” which is an unsexy way of saying that all that stuff — water, fossil fuels, raw materials — is already embedded in whatever the object is. Whatever resource damage resulted in the manufacture, if any, happened long ago. Yet here the item is, still useable, and still attractive or maybe even more attractive with the patina of age. That means that all that embedded energy is ready to still do whatever it was originally designed to do and still charm the user to boot!
It’s re-use to the max.
Now that might not sound too romantic at first glance. But, speaking as an unblushing treehugger, knowing that something won’t do any fresh damage to our precious Mother Earth while it’s also being preserved for history and it’s not going to waste in a landfill, is actually just the kind of thing I find thoughtful.
And thoughtful is sexy! Protection, preservation, and prevention is the triple bottom line to my nature-loving heart.
One caveat…Yes, when things are shipped that IS a new ask on precious resources. But that’s the same with everything that’s shipped, old or new.
Vintage and antique items already have such a sustainable leg up on new stuff that the shipping piece is no dealbreaker. Giving a vintage Valentine’s gift or card instead of a new one is a particularly lovely way to express your care for a loved one while showing that you care for our blessed creation.
Only buying nothing, ever, is more sustainable than buying antique and vintage items. The problem is, buying nothing isn’t much fun. And people like fun, so why not do it the enviro-friendly way?
Okay, so that big wind up out of the way, another thing that’s particularly sustainable is using a vintage handkerchief. It’s actually doubly sustainable. Vintage hankies have their embedded energy and they keep you from ripping through disposable tissues at breakneck speed.
What’s Not To Love?
Vintage handkerchiefs are out there in profusion, in a plethora of different designs for every conceivable taste. And, given that vintage hankies are a personal sanitary product, there’s no harmful boogeyman germs to worry about like the disposable paper companies tried to spin back in the 1950s when they pushed folks to give up hankies for single-use tissues. (Through TV and scary messages they succeeded by the way, which is the advertising industry’s tree-depleting evil on a par with Thank You For Smoking.)
But the old school way to handle drying your tears and dabbing your nose is to have, say, seven hankies and wash them with your other laundry. Then they’re clean, safe, and sustainable.
Some will argue that washing is itself unsustainable, but that’s untrue. People have always washed their clothing, linens, and textiles. What’s really unsustainable is companies selling things intended to quickly throw away. People haven’t always made single-use items and then chucked ’em with no thought for how their use was contributing to the destruction of the world.
Of course it took water and fiber and energy to make the original hankie — there’s that embedded energy again. It takes far less water to clean it. But it takes a ton of water and trees and fuel to make each and every disposable tissue along with the boxing, plastic, and shipping to get it to the store. And those tissues never get a second life. Buy, use ,chuck; buy, use, chuck; buy, use, chuck. There’s just no comparison.
So I hope you’ll agree, dear reader, that it’s a great time for all of us to get going with vintage handkerchiefs instead of tissues.
Here at Lady Virginia Vintage we have a nice little collection of vintage handkerchiefs from the 1920s forward in all kinds of beautiful designs — floral, geometric, sorta plain, kinda kitsch, more or less feminine or masculine, and even one that’s a Valentine itself. All cleaned and sterilized, of course. See our gallery of a few samples below (there’s more in the shop) and pick up one for your mom, yourself, your friend, your sweetheart, whomever.
So give a little sweet nothing to your sweetie while doing nothing harmful to the Earth. That’s a love worth celebrating!
— Lady Virginia, Lady Virginia Vintage