Valentine’s Day: Your Guide to Gifting Sustainably & Thoughtfully in Berkeley and the East Bay

Two magenta candles and an out of focus pink Klean Kanteen bottle.

Photo credit: Selena Tran

Whether you celebrate Valentine’s Day with loved ones or Galentine’s Day with cherished friends, you may be wondering how to balance your commitment to sustainability while gift-giving. The options for showing your love, appreciation, and admiration don’t have to be limited to material goods. Gifting options definitely should not be limited to plastic, single-use disposable products or packaging – there are countless ways to gift and uphold your values! From local businesses to farmers’ market vendors, this guide will explore both alternative and traditional gifts while keeping a sustainable, local-to-Berkeley and the East Bay focus. 

Shop-Free “Gifts”

One consideration for this holiday is that there are many different love languages, or ways that each individual prefers to give and receive appreciation. Those you care about may value words of affirmation, acts of service, or quality time over tangible gifts. If this sounds like your special someone, a few thoughtful “gift” ideas could be:

  • Writing a good, old-fashioned love letter
  • Mending a well-loved piece of furniture or clothing item
  • Cooking a nice dinner
  • Taking an art class together
  • Booking a massage
  • Planning a hike

Support Local Businesses in Berkeley and the East Bay

Sweets and Treats: 
Based in Berkeley, TCHO Chocolate uses Fair Trade ingredients and is a certified B Corp. You can find TCHO Chocolate at Whole Foods.

Another option located in Berkeley is The Xocolate Bar. This shop is a member of the Good Food Guild and carries a number of organic and vegan chocolates! 

Gorgeous and Green creates beautiful and unique floral arrangements using locally grown flowers, free of plastic wraps and floral foam. Plus, as a part of their sustainability pledge, most deliveries are made by bike or electric vehicle!

For sustainably-sourced jewelry, try looking for Hathorway pieces at Dandelion Post or Maker’s Loft in Oakland. Based in the South Bay, Hathorway avoids plastics and acrylics by using natural materials such as buffalo horns, which are discarded from the food industry in Vietnam.

Gifting Sustainably: Ecology Center EcoStore

Our EcoStore products are carefully vetted; we consider each product’s materials, durability, sustainability, locality, and multicultural value. You will be sure to find the perfect gift that you can feel great about too. A few examples of gifts available at our EcoStore include: 

  • Beeswax candles, in sizes and shapes ranging from heart-shaped tea lights to sculpted pillars
  • Stainless steel containers and bamboo utensils, in case you are intrigued by some of the gift free options above and want to incorporate quality time into a outdoor picnic getaway
  • Cards printed on recycled paper
  • Books, including cookbooks, novels, and hiking guides
  • Does your special someone enjoy shopping at the Ecology Center Store? If so, we recommend the gift of an Ecology Center membership for Store and class discounts, among other perks! 

At the Berkeley Farmers’ Markets

A black board stand with a pink frame, written on the board is "Coracao Organic Chocolate, organic, cane sugar free, vegan, gluten free"

Photo credit: Selena Tran

Thursday, North Berkeley Farmers’ Market (Shattuck/Vine), 3-7pm:

Full Belly Farm
In addition to delicious produce, Full Belly Farm also has beautiful bouquets for your loved ones. 

Frog Hollow Farm
Baked goods from Frog Hollow Farm are made with juicy stone fruits from the farm in addition to other organic ingredients. You can find Frog Hollow Farm at all of the Berkeley Farmers’ Markets on Tuesday, Thursday, and Saturday. 

Saturday, Downtown Berkeley Farmers’ Market (Center Street/MLK Jr. Way), 10am-3pm:

Check out Coracao for the traditional chocolate gift. On top of being deliciously rich and vegan, Coracao’s cacao is sourced from regenerative farms that pay Fair Trade wages or more. 

Four Sisters Farm
Grab some locally grown flowers from Four Sisters Farm for your loved ones. 

Soul Flower Farm
If you’re in search of a gift that’s a bit more unique, try stopping by Soul Flower Farm’s booth for herbal body products and tonics.

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