By Michelle Werts

Happy February 14th! So much to celebrate on this day: love, statehoods and a certain blogger’s birthday. Let’s start with the most ubiquitous of today’s celebrations.

Valentine’s Day

Credit: Liz West (muffet)/Flickr

This heart-covered holiday’s history is shrouded in mystery and uncertainty. Is it honoring St. Valentine … and which one? Is it related to Lupercalia, the pagan celebration of fertility? While we let scholars debate such topics, I am sure of one thing: Valentine’s Day to many means chocolate and flowers. But while those chocolates and flowers might make you feel warm and fuzzy inside, they aren’t doing warm and fuzzy things to the environment.

As reported by The Huffington Post, cut flowers tell a sordid tale — from poor work conditions abroad and nasty chemicals used to grow and preserve the flowers to transportation and storage energy use and emissions and finishing with decomposition nightmares due to the cellophane and other factors. And flowers aren’t the only environmental harmers: chocolate, cards, balloons, jewelry … all have their own un-nature-friendly foibles. So what’s an eco-friendly guy or gal to do? Be cognizant about what you’re buying and from where. To get started, check out UK’s The Guardian‘s handy guide of the environmental impacts of Valentine’s staples and ways to show both your loved one and the environment that you care. My favorite, simple change: give plants instead of bouquets. This way, your loved one will feel loved every day of the year!

State Anniversaries

Arizona was the last of the lower 48 states to join the U.S., which it did on February 14, 1912. While famously known for a certain big canyon, the Copper State is also home to six national forests: Apache-Sitgreaves, Coconino, Coronado, Kaibab, Prescott and Tonto National Forests.

Coconino National Forest, Arizona
Coconino National Forest, Arizona. Credit: Adam Baker (AlphaTangoBravo)/Flickr

Joining America on February 14, 1859, our 33rd state, Oregon, brought with it oodles of ideal terrain for outdoor adventures — from camping to fishing to rock climbing to skiing — which isn’t surprising considering it’s home to more than a dozen national forests and a national park.

Crater Lake National Park, Oregon
Crater Lake National Park, Oregon. Credit: Glenn Scofield Williams (glenwilliamspdx)/Flickr
Okay, I think that about covers the celebrations for today — or at least it will once I fulfill my hankering for a piece of chocolate birthday cake.