I think Valentine’s Day is one of those holidays that means different things to you at different times of your life. In grade school, I loved packaging away those little cards with treats and creating my own fancy Valentine’s Day mailbox to receive all those little cards back. (One of my most embarrassing moments came when an admirer gave me a card that was literally the size of my notebook and when opened hearts popped out. I was teased for months – but I digress.) As years passed by, Valentine’s Day has been filled with flowers, chocolates, movie nights, fancy dinners and Mexican adventures – basically the day was filled with getting more “stuff.”  But, as I grew older, I came to understand that Valentine’s Day is the perfect day to simply appreciate all of the blessings in my life. To me, it’s a cheery little day in the middle of a usually dreary, long winter.

While most people cry foul that this is another fabricated holiday sold by the hospitality and card industry, you’d expect that Valentine’s Day is the last day a Conscious Consumer would celebrate.

But in fact, this couldn’t be further from the truth. There are countless resources that help people have a “greener” holiday. From things as simple as buying cards made using recycled paper, supporting local farm to table restaurants and even buying clothing made from sustainable resources like bamboo.  Here are just a couple of ways that brands are making it easier for Conscious Consumers to celebrate Valentine’s day.

Check out GiftRocket, which allows people to skip giving the plastic gift card and instead sends recipients via their smartphone to the retail location to redeem their credit amounts.   Just one plastic gift card translates into carbon footprint of 21 grams – the amount of gas needed to drive a Hummer 150 feet.

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Or how about giving the gift of an experience? Let’s face it, our homes and offices can get cluttered quickly with our little love trinkets and cards. So, how about a gift that gives back? Our client, Minnesota Zoo, has many wonderful ways for you show your love without creating more landfill. From memberships to animals sponsorships to unique animal encounters – the gift of an experience that can be shared together ranks high on the list of Conscious Consumer’s brand preferences. By the way, there are few Otter Encounter spots left!

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There are a variety of lists and recommendations that resonate with Conscious Consumers on how to celebrate love without sacrificing their values. If you’re in need of more ideas, here’s a few more lists to review:

The whole point is that Conscious Consumers are just regular people who still celebrate holidays, but they do so with the lens of thinking about impact on the health of themselves, their communities and the world.

The brands that truly understand the Conscious Consumer know that its less about marketing your product features and more about marketing how your brand makes meaningful connections in a Conscious Consumer’s life.   And while Valentine’s Day is just one day a year, it’s a good lesson to apply to any future marketing initiatives.  So go ahead, share the love and you’ll get the love of Conscious Consumers in return.

For me, this Valentine’s Day, I’ll be celebrating by cheering the Minnesota Gopher Men’s Basketball team to victory and maybe, just maybe – finally making it on the kiss cam!