Photo of bird seed in the shape of a heart.

(Photo courtesy of Cindy Hopper)

With approximately 180 million Valentine’s Day cards exchanged and over 200 million roses grown for Valentine’s Day each year, celebrating love on February 14th can take its toll on the environment. But by taking a few of our suggestions, you can embrace the Chesapeake Bay and the environment, as well as your loved ones this year.

1. Make Treats for the Birds. Making Valentine’s themed crafts with family and friends or to give as gifts can be a great opportunity to help wildlife make it through the winter while you share the Valentine’s spirit. You can follow guides to make birdseed, popcorn, or berry ornaments for the backyard that fit the season.

2. Take a Hike. Hitting the trail is a great way to share an experience with important people in your life, helping to make you closer to each other and to your natural surroundings. Find trails and parks near you that suit your style here. (Photo courtesy of Bob Stoler)3. Give a Green Gift. Because the flower industry can be harsh on the environment, opt for planting a tree instead of gifting cut flowers. With a $20 donation to the Alliance, we will plant a native tree in honor of someone special to you and send you a dedication card—just say who you would like it dedicated to in the comments section when you donate here.

4. Stay Local. Instead of driving long distances for your Valentine’s Day date, patron local restaurants or entertainment venues. By cutting down on how far you have to travel, you reduce fossil fuel used for your celebration. (Photo courtesy of Amy Vowels)5. Skip the Card. Instead of buying Valentine’s Day cards, make your own out of recycled paper or refurbish one-use materials like paper towel or toilet paper rolls to make creative valentines like this love bug. Better yet, simply tell your Valentine what they mean to you in person instead of on a card.