Valentine’s Candy and Gifts

It’s the time of year. Flowers, balloons, cards and candy. A few tips and helpful reminders are listed here.

Flowers and plants can be composted. Please remove any container or plastic wrap/plastic sleeves before composting. Only the actual plant part should be composted, “If it grows, it goes!” Plastic containers (hard/rigid plastic) can be recycled in Austin’s single-stream recycling. If you are not a curbside composting customer you can find locations and more information on how you can compost here. Save the rubber bands to reuse at home, work, or at school.

Balloons are not recyclable, nor is the ribbon/string. These should go in the trash once they’re past their usefulness. Please do not release balloons into the air as they will end up in trees, stuck on buildings, in the ocean and in aquatic animals stomachs. Deflated balloons look like jellyfish and other foods many marine animals eat.

Cards, without glitter or foil, can be recycled. If there is glitter or foil, those cards should go in the trash. As a reminder, glitter should not be mailed to our deployed service members as the glitter can get on their uniforms and the reflection picked up by enemy surveillance equipment. If you can avoid glitter, you can be a little more green just by not purchasing glitter products (this includes glitter glue, glitter stickers and clothing). Glitter is a micro-plastic, which are fragments of plastic less than 5 millimetres in length. Micro-plastics are becoming such a concern, that scientists are even discussing banning glitter. Micro-plastics end up in our water, marine animals (and other animals), and if we eat those animals or drink that water, they could end up inside us too.

Candy, the edible part, can be composted. The wrappers and such should be trashed/recycled as long as there is no food contaminate. Austin has lots of bakeries that will let you use your own container and several chocolate/candy shops where you can pick what you know someone will enjoy. Always ask retailers if you can have your food purchases put in your own containers. Many places will let you, they just haven’t thought about it or don’t promote it.

You many want to consider a more recyclable or compostable option this year compared to traditional Valentine’s Day candy such a a higher quality card than normal, brownies, cookies, cake, ice cream (fresh: take a stroll to your local ice cream parlor or purchase ice cream sold in plastic containers), dinner/meal, etc. or candy you know the person will actually eat. These options tend to be sold in plastic containers or bakery paper that can be recycled or composted. Reminder that paper-type ice-cream containers are actually a composite of plastic and paper, are not recyclable and go in the trash.

After Valentine’s Day one finds that the candy itself (along with the wrappers, which still enclose it)[underline mine] often gets thrown away.

Rathje, William and Cullen Murphy. Rubbish! HarperCollins Publishers, Inc. 1992

This “basically entire gift in the trash” is contrary to Halloween when most of the candy trash is wrappers with no candy itself left. Bottom line, buy the good stuff or buy something else.

Happy Valentine’s/Galentine’s/Etc. Day!

Love the Earth, love yourself, love each other!