What is your love language? According to Gary Chapman, author of The Five Love Languages, there are five ways to express and experience love. Spoiler alert, you can express your love with more than just gifts! The five languages are,
WORDS OF AFFIRMATION, using words to build up the other person, i.e. verbal compliments.
ACTS OF SERVICE, doing things for your partner that you know they would like.
QUALITY TIME, giving your partner your undivided attention.
PHYSICAL TOUCH, connecting with your partner through, well, physical touch.
- RECEIVING GIFTS, giving thoughtful gifts to make your partner feel appreciated.
Out of these five, every person has one primary love language. Discovering yours and your partner’s love language can help take some of the guesswork out of your relationship’s expectations and needs.
Now that you know that you can express your love with more than just gifts... here are some eco-friendly ideas for each love language to help you celebrate Valentine’s Day more sustainably.
WORDS OF AFFIRMATION Compliments are a zero-waste gift that comes aplenty! But if you wanted to write them down, do it on simple (post-consumer) recycled paper! You don't need to buy a fancy, expensive card that may be covered in glitter or other non-recyclable ornaments. Remember, it's your words that are what’s valuable here, not what they’re written on.
ACTS OF SERVICE Doing things for your partner that you know they’d like can be low- if not zero-waste. From cleaning up around the house, doing the laundry or taking out the trash, picking up the kids so they don’t have to and other errands, your actions will speak their love language… louder than words would!
QUALITY TIME Have you ever heard the saying, “Your presence is my present?” Giving your partner your undivided attention is another zero-waste “gift" you can give. Put on a movie (with no cell phones to distract), go out to dinner, or go for a long walk to spend quality time with your partner.
PHYSICAL TOUCH We’re all adults here, so we're going to say that this love language is not all about sex. It’s more about intimacy, like holding hands, hugs, or scratching their hair. A massage after a long day at work and a stress-relieving cuddle session can be the perfect gift for them.
- RECEIVING GIFTS We saved the most complicated for last because with gifts, it’s easy to be wasteful. This love language isn’t necessarily materialistic, it’s about showing them effort and proving that you are thinking of them. If you need to buy a gift for them, make sure it’s something they need and will use for a long time. But if nothing comes to mind, you can’t go wrong with a fresh bouquet of flowers (not wrapped in cellophane) that you can compost afterward.
You can combine ACTS OF SERVICE and GIFTS together when you bake or cook for your loved one, and even QUALITY TIME if you do it together. Talk about a home run!
So instead of a box of chocolates or a bag of candy that comes packaged in plastic, take the time to make them their favorite meal or sweet treat! Here’s a recipe for plastic-free turtles, you know the ones with chocolate, pecans, and caramel, that you can make for them or together!
Plastic-Free Turtle Candy
6 oz. toasted/roasted pecan halves
You can find pecans in your grocer’s bulk aisle, just bring your own paper bag or reusable produce bag and fill ‘er up!
8 oz. melted chocolate
If you can’t find bulk chocolate in your grocer’s bulk aisle, get bar chocolate that comes in aluminum foil and paperboard packaging, rather than plastic-bagged chocolate melts. Depending on how sweet your sweet tooth is, you can start with 8 oz. milk chocolate and 8 oz. dark chocolate and adjust the ratio from there.
12 oz. soft caramel
You can make your own caramel candy, or buy bulk soft, caramel candies in your grocer’s bulk aisle.
Flaky sea salt, optional
You can normally find this ingredient in a box or glass jar.
On a non-stick baking sheet, arrange the pecans in clusters of four or five. Like a plus sign + or a star, each pecan should point in a different direction. These are the turtle’s legs.
If you bought bulk caramel candies, place them in a microwave-safe bowl. If they are very stiff, add a spoonful of water or half-and-half so the sauce will be softer. Microwave until melted, stirring after every 30 seconds. Allow to cool slightly.
If you’re making your own caramel candies, let your pot of caramel goodness cool and set slightly.
With not piping-hot caramel, use a spoon to drop a spoonful of caramel on each pecan cluster. It doesn’t have to be perfect, don’t worry about keeping the pecans in their formation, it’s okay to leave the tips of the pecans uncovered.
Melt the chocolate in the microwave, stirring every 30 seconds, or over a double boiler.
Spoon the melted chocolate over the caramel layer. Again, it doesn’t have to be perfect!
Sprinkle a little flaky sea salt on top for that pièce de résistance.
Place the sheet of turtles in your fridge to fully set, at least 30 minutes.
Serve the turtles at room temperature. Store in an airtight container in the fridge or at cool room temperature for up to two weeks.