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Valentine's Day Gifts That Aren't Evil

Many chocolates, diamonds, and flowers are made under unethical practices. Here's a guide to choosing wisely.


Speaking cynically, Valentine's Day is a holiday that encourages compulsory, conspicuous consumption in the name of love. Speaking practically, even the holiday's haters are likely to show affection with a floral arrangement or tennis bracelet at some point down the line. Unfortunately, many of Valentine's Day's standard romantic gifts are produced under unethical practices. (Might we suggest a simple handmade valentine?) If you're wedded to the holiday's traditional offerings, here's a guide to choosing wisely:

FLOWERS. Last year, we discussed the violent labor practices that make your romantic flower arrangement from major markets like Ecuador, Colombia, and Kenya. Flower farm workers around the world have reported sexual harassment, physical assault, rock-bottom wages, and dangerous working conditions while picking the roses in your Valentine's Day bouquet. Luckily, select florists do offer fair trade-certified flowers: Try One World Flowers or Inbloom Group. And recently, growing attention to these unethical working conditions has encouraged major flower companies to stock more ethically-sourced offerings, as well. 1-800-Flowers' "Planet Friendly Smile Collection" claims to offer flowers from "domestic and international flower farms that follow socially and environmentally responsible practices," while FTD's "Go Green Living" features fair trade-certified, "eco-friendly" bouquets. But the bulk of their business still relies on questionably-sourced flowers.

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