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Imagine the scene: it’s Valentine’s Day, you’re wearing your good clothes for when you really want to look like you’ve made an effort.
You’ve been to the pictures to see an entertaining but schmaltzy rom-com and now you sit in a restaurant opposite your significant other who has also clearly put in the effort. It’s all going great, you’re both having a lovely time.
You stare into their eyes. ‘This year, darling,’ you say, ‘to show you I love you, I’ve bought you this.’ You hand over the gift.
‘Oh wow, thank you!’ they say. ‘But what is it?’
‘I’ve got you the needless endangerment of a marine mammal,’ you say enthusiastically, ‘and the plastic it comes wrapped in will last forever. Just like our love.’
Each year, February 14 brings forth a spend-a-geddon of consumerism in an attempt to woo, charm and show that special someone we love them. In a last minute panic, we pick up the chocolates and flowers while searching for a token of our affection, forgetting that just over a month ago we practically bankrupted ourselves at Christmas.
The UK spent just short of £1.5 billion on their 2019 Valentine’s celebrations with £772 million of that total being spent on things such as cards, flowers and jewellery. Each gift intricately wrapped and packaged in often non-recyclable materials.
is this consumer frenzy worth it? Does our careless disregard for the planet’s resources and our bank balance bring us closer to our loved ones?
No, frankly. While comical plastic tat may elicit a wee smile and maybe even a quick snog before heading out for your Valentine’s meal, reports show 46.8 per cent of us don’t even like the gifts we are given.
The results of the 2019 Great British Beach Clean have shown that on average we find 558 pieces of litter on every 100m stretch of UK beach, with plastic still being by far the worst offender. A truckload of plastic enters our oceans every minute and supermarkets are churning out 800,000 tonnes of the stuff each year in the UK alone.
The solution is clear: we need to stop creating as much stuff to be wasted in the first place. Spending £1.5 billion a year on plastic love hearts is not the best way to achieve this.
So why not this year reconsider buying that teddy bear for a fully grown adult? Why not cook your other half a meal, go to a concert, or go somewhere romantic? Create lasting memories with your loved ones before the incredible marine life we enjoy in Scotland is only that – a memory.