Julia Stephenson: The Green Goddess

Be my eco-Valentine
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The Independent Online

For the last two weeks there can only have been one topic exercising this paper's readership - how to have an eco-friendly Valentine's Day. Celebrating the day uses huge amounts of the earth's resources - cards, pesticide-ridden champagnes, exploitatively farmed chocolate, carbon emission-busting travel - because people do crazy things on 14 February.

Connie, my air-stewardess flatmate, is taking her beau to a spa in Zanzibar for four days (she gets first-class travel at a 90-per-cent discount), while Jago is going to propose to his girlfriend in a hot-air balloon.

Valentine's Day has become so corny and commercial that I've forbidden my romantic interest from celebrating it.But as the day draws closer I regret my stance. Indeed I have morphed from a miserable puritan to a capricious cavalier. If I am not deluged with cards (recycled would be nice but absolutely anything will do at this late stage), presents and tickets to an eco-friendly destination (I'd even put up with Hawaii), I will be crushed.

Fortunately for the eco-minded swain it's possible to have a green Valentine's Day. Take champagne. The richest wine regions in the world use a vast amount of pesticides, and Champagne has the most polluted soil in France. Fortunately there are several delicious organic alternatives, for example bio-dynamic fleury, stocked at Waitrose, and my favourite tipple, serge faust.

As for a Valentine mini-break, forget Zanzibar and check out something in our Sceptred Isle instead. The George Hotel on the Isle of Wight would be my topchocs choice. Waterloo to Southampton or Portsmouth is only a 90-minute train ride; from there it's a 15-minute trip across the water on the super Speedcat. Insist on staying in the room that Charles II (England's bravest and greenest king), slept in during his terrifying period of exile. The thought of a visitation from the Merrie Monarch may induce fear, which scientists have proved encourages romantic excitement.

You could also take the train to the Hotel Continental in Whitstable, famed for its authentic yet chic beach-huts facing the bracing sea. 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" and begin my next novel but, bereft of compass or man, was left wandering the streets.

Meanwhile your pesticide-ridden red roses are likely to have come from Zimbabwe, Israel, Colombia or Kenya, incurring a vast amount of aircraft emissions in their transportation. Instead, why not spend £30 and buy an acre of rainforest from the small and innovative charity the World Land Trust? Instead of a wilting bunch of roses you could protect a variety of beautiful rainforest orchids.

If you call them on 01986 874 422 by 1pm today they will send a Valentine's card, a certificate describing your patch, and organic chocolates, to reach your dreamboat by tomorrow morning.

www.worldlandtrust.org

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