Anti-green Valentine

February 14, 2014

The Carbon footprint would be huge. 9,000 metric tons of Carbon dioxide is produced when we produce 100 million roses for the Western markets. The high energy cost is because almost all of them are grown in greenhouses with artificially controlled heating and lighting. It is not just the Carbon we have to worry about, but all the agro-chemicals and hormones used to grow the plants and get the flowers to bloom at the right time, and all the chemicals sprayed on the flowers to keep them lively and bright and smell so sweet. All that add to the pollution of the soil, the water and the air we breath. The red rose that is offered in the name of love is really a symbol of our wickedness towards Mother Earth. Natural vegetation and virgin forests had been cleared in less developed countries to grow the roses, and airplanes and refrigerated trucks and warehouses are used for transport and distribute the flowers many thousands of miles away.


February 14th is celebrated in some countries as Valentine’s day. It is said to be a day for lovers, to celebrate their love. But on this day in the name of love they do everything other than love one another, and love Mother Earth and all other life on her.

To remind ourselves of a few statistics, on 2013 Valentine’s Day in USA alone, they had exchanged 36 million heart-shaped boxes, 180 million cards, 198 million roses, gulped down 881 million bottles of wine, and eaten 26 million Kg of chocolates. The pollution from production and transport and from the resulting garbage would have been incalculable. (

Even though people in our part of the world are not as crazy, February 14th turns out to be very anti-green, at least in the city and suburbs. The damage to the environment and our fragile eco-system is enormous. To produce the gift wrapping boxes and paper, and the greeting cards, we have to kill so many trees, and pollute so much water. The electricity we burn up for illuminations and for lighting up the parties through the night means burning all that fossil fuel.

We like to believe that the e-cards we send to each other, the text messages and e-mail messages and Skype calls, cost us nothing, or just a fraction of the cost of telephone calls and printed greeting cards. All these electronic communications costs are very high financially and environmentally. We can only see the tiny tip of the iceberg, of the electricity cost in charging our phone or tablet, and any fees to the telecommunication provider. Below the surface runs the communication towers, data centers, servers, all of which consume power, and there is also the cost of manufacturing all these equipment, buildings to store them, and equipment to cool all the equipment. Most of the energy requirements are still met by burning coal, adding to global warming, polluting the air and the water.

Thus a short text message “I Love You”, though it appears to cost us nothing would be as harmful as saying “I will Kill you” to Mother Earth.

If we ignore all the warnings about the environmental disaster looming over us, in a few years time we may not have the chocolates to offer on Valentine’s Day, because the cocoa and sugar cane plantations are shrinking around the globe, due to global warming.

Even if we need one day for a year to remind ourselves that we love someone, and to remind the other person that we love him or her, we should try to find a greener, more nature friendly way to say it. Love should spread, it should radiate from one love to another, to all the people and all the living beings around us, and it is only then that the love will return to us, multiplied a million or a billion times.

To a person we really love, it would never be necessary to say it in words, for words are just empty gestures. A mother would never have to tell a child she loves him, in so many words, because she is saying it all the time, all through her life, and even after she is dead. A true lover would not have to say it in words or by offering a rose or a chocolate, because he says it all the time, with his eyes, with his touch and just by his presence.

We can of course cheat ourselves by using cards made of recycled paper or re-using old cards. Yet the recycling also costs energy and causes pollution and we could re-use a card may be just once. We could give just one rose, instead of a bunch. Even the single rose would add up to several millions around the world.

But we need not despair, even if we are desperate to express our love with a material thing on this Valentine’s Day. We could always gift a rose plant, in a small pot, so the loved one could have a fresh flower everyday, instead of one flower which would fade away and has to be thrown into the garbage. When we grow a plant at home, we need not add poisonous agro-chemicals or hormones, and we would not be burning any fossil fuels. If the loved one lives in a house with a garden, we could gift a bigger plant, a fruit tree perhaps.

Be humane, on the day of the Lovers. Let’s share our love and our happiness with our fellow men. Instead of going out to a dinner dance and spending an amount which could keep an entire family in food for one month or even more, let’s think of having a simple meal, home cooked, and with the money saved, perhaps gift a few books to a deserving child in our neighbourhood.

Let’s think of extending our love to the innocent animals on Mother earth too. Abstain, at least for this single day, consuming the flesh of a poor animal, who would have been murdered, just to please our craving for carrion.

( Daya Dissanayake may be reached at  This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it. )