Valentine’s Day Waste Facts
Valentine’s Day creates more than a romantic mood every year – it also produces lots of additional waste. Millions of cards, flowers, boxes of chocolates, and other presents are exchanged between partners and secret admirers. In the days and weeks after, these items and their packaging are disposed of in various ways.
There’s nothing romantic about the amount of waste the loving holiday generates. In the UK alone, February 14th produces an extra nine million kilograms of CO2 due to the obligatory gift-giving, meals out, and activities between partners. Find out how much rubbish the day creates with these facts and statistics about Valentine’s Day waste.
How much waste does
Valentine’s Day produce?
It’s estimated that 40 million people celebrate Valentine’s Day across the UK every year. Buying gifts, eating out, and purchasing food and drink to cook a romantic meal at home all adds up, as Brits spend around £1.3 billion to celebrate on February 14th. And it leaves behind lots of waste.
Here are some top stats about how much waste Valentine’s Day produces:
- 25 million Valentine’s cards are sent and (most) disposed of in the UK annually
- Around 145 million cards are exchanged in the USA on Valentine’s Day
- Also in the USA, 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolates are sold
- About 250 million stems of flowers are sold globally each Valentine’s Day
- Americans buy 880,000 bottles of sparkling wine for the occasion
- It’s estimated that 13,500 miles of wrapping paper are used for Valentine’s gifts in the UK
- More than 17,000 tonnes of cardboard packaging waste is created on February 14th across the UK – from chocolate boxes and delivery boxes for online gift orders
- The UK creates nearly 7,500 tonnes of plastic packaging for Valentine’s gifts
- Just over one in five (22%) Brits claim they don’t buy gifts – and thus create no extra waste on Valentine’s Day
What is the carbon footprint
of Valentine’s Day?
Valentine’s Day in the UK creates an extra nine million kilograms of CO2 compared to an average day. This is due to the extra gifts bought, food eaten, and drinks drunk. One of the main culprits is buying bouquets of flowers. Roses are a summer flower in the UK, which means most are imported from overseas.
The majority are shipped over from Africa, which has a big carbon impact. In the three weeks before Valentine’s Day flower deliveries create around 360,000 tonnes of CO2 emissions. Storing and transporting them in refrigerated trucks produces more carbon emissions too. Switching to locally grown flowers can help reduce this amount.
How long does it take for Valentine’s Day
waste to decompose?
A few days or weeks after Valentine’s Day you’ll likely want to throw away that drooping bouquet of roses, empty prosecco bottle, and deflated love heart-shaped balloon. Chucking them out with general waste could lead them to landfill where they struggle to break down and add to pollution and carbon emission levels.
Recycle, reuse, and recover waste where possible as otherwise popular items from Valentine’s Day can take a long time to decompose:
- Flowers – between six and 12 months (in a well-managed compost pile)
- Chocolate boxes – six to eight months (with no added materials)
- Plastic packaging – 20 to 500 years
- Balloons – 450 years
- Wine bottles – up to 4,000 years (if at all)
More Valentine’s Day statistics
A few further facts about Valentine’s Day include:
- Brits spend around £85 million on sweets for Valentine’s Day
- Average spending on sparkling wine increases by 103% and Champagne goes up 52% on Valentine’s Day
- Just over two-thirds of Brits (68%) plan on spending between £1 and £50
- 4 million bouquets of flowers are bought in the UK for Valentine’s Day
- Valentine’s Day is responsible for more than 5% of all roses sold throughout the year
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