By Samantha Lund, Columnist

Valentine’s Day is hard for everyone. One obvious reason for this could be because you are single. Being single on Valentine’s Day is rough — trust me, I have been there. Valentine’s Day can also be a struggle for people in relationships, because expectations are so high.

There is pressure, not always by your loved one, but by stores and advertisements. The pressure to provide the most romantic, trendy and chocolaty gifts is intense.

With the pressure increasing, Valentine’s Day is coming close to Christmas as the most commercialized holiday of the year.

To stay away from the commercialized and over-exaggerated Valentine’s cliches, some students plan to stay out of it and spend a night at home. “Me and my boyfriend are planning a night in,” sophomore Melissa Inouye said. “Making dinner and watching a movie at home.”

This year, try a sustainable, homemade, creative Valentine’s Day. Do not give into the companies that are using chemicals, sweatshops and polluting the earth.

There are plenty of tricks to stay away from Hallmark, Victoria’s Secret and Hershey’s. These are the biggest contributors to the Valentine’s Day madness according to The Huffington Post. Plus Trojan, but please still use those.

Putting a little extra effort in and making things yourself shows your love that you care more anyway. That is what it’s really about. Anything handmade, from a sign saying you love someone to a personalized picture frame made by you is a great way to show someone you care.

Let us start with our favorite part of Valentine’s Day — the food. A simple way to make your sweetie something sugary is to use your Google machine and search your favorite treat. Pinterest is full of ideas, just remember not to let all the other goodies on Pinterest distract you.

Spending an afternoon on it is too easy. Try making your Valentine a batch of his or her favorite cookies or surprise that special someone with some chocolate covered strawberries you made at home.

“Making home made treats is definitely the way to go,” junior Gailon Wixson said. “Even if they don’t taste great, usually boys don’t care.”

Valentine’s dinner is always a big deal, and restaurants make a ton of money off of it. Visit a locally owned restaurant this year and give back to your community. Huge chains have specials and the same processed food shipped from across every part of the country.

Staying local will give back to your community and small businesses are, on average, more sustainable. Marzano’s is a close, locally owned place to visit where the owners appreciate Pacific Lutheran University students coming in.

When it comes to getting gifts, going non-commercialized is a challenge. I’m sure you are all very creative and will definitely make your significant other happy with a handmade gift. However, if you are not the crafting type, try giving back to the planet.

Use the money you would spend on a present and give back. There are many websites that give you the opportunity to adopt an animal in your significant other’s name. You can save an animal on a farm that otherwise would be on a dinner table, you can save manatees and dolphins or you can save your significant other’s favorite rainforest animal.

Your boyfriend or girlfriend can even name the animal. Worldwidewildlife.org has a gift center on its website where you can instantly adopt a baby animal for your loved one. However, if you do go this route, make sure you still have something to hand that special someone on Valentine’s night. That is where flowers come in.

Flowers play a key role in Valentine’s Day. Obviously roses are the most commercialized and the prices get marked up during the holiday. This Valentine’s Day try giving your lovely someone a potted plant that will last longer than a week and stay beautiful.

Show that special someone your love, but keep the earth in mind and stay sustainable. ◼︎

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