Julia Stephenson: The Green Goddess
Thursday 08 February 2007
For the past couple of weeks, there can only have been one topic exercising the mighty brains of this paper's readership: how to have an eco-friendly Valentine's Day. Celebrating this event uses huge amounts of the Earth's resources - cards, pesticide-ridden Champagnes and flowers, exploitatively farmed chocolate and carbon-emission-busting travel.
Connie, my air stewardess flatmate, is taking her inamorata to a spa in Maui for five days (she gets first-class travel at a 90 per cent discount). Last year, my friend, Jago, proposed to his girlfriend in a hot air balloon. She refused.
Fortunately for the eco-minded swain, it's possible to have a green Valentine's Day. Let's start with drink. The richest wine regions in the world use a vast amount of pesticides, to say nothing of the carbon emitted in shipping it round the world. The Champagne region's been described as having the most polluted soil in France. While Australia is the most over-mechanised vineyard on the planet.
However, there are several UK-produced alternatives, which are grown with minimum amounts of pesticides. Thanks to global warming, we now produce delicious fizz such as Chapel Down (£15 from Sainsbury's) and Nyetimber (£29).
As for a mini-break, forget flying abroad and check out something in the UK instead. What could be more romantic than holing up in one of the Hotel Continental's chic beach huts facing the North Sea at Whitstable? Your romantic interest will need a good sense of direction to find these huts. I checked in for a solitary mini-break, hoping to "find myself" but, bereft of a compass or a man, was left wandering the streets of Whitstable until I was picked up by a kindly fellow in a white van and returned to the hotel. I didn't "find myself" or the huts, but you may have more luck.
Meanwhile, your pesticide-ridden red roses are likely to have come from Zimbabwe, Israel, Colombia and Kenya, displacing local people who can no longer use the land to grow their own crops and incurring a vast amount of aircraft emissions in their transport. Eschew these vile blooms in favour of UK-grown daffodils, freesias and hyacinths.
Scented Narcissi ( www.scentednarcissi.co.uk) grows delightful, scented narcissi on the Isles of Scilly. Purchasers support one of the last surviving cottage industries in Britain.
And last but not least. Don't get pregnant on the night! The world is massively over-populated (more than six billion and growing), and many of these bods will want to enjoy cheap flights, cars and the delights of electricity.
The most eco-friendly gift of all could be a packet of rose-scented condoms from Boots. Who said romance was dead?
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