Illustration by Derrick "DJ" Reed

Valentine’s Day is an overrated and wasteful holiday that puts unnecessary pressure on impressing your romantic partner and emphasis on material gifts. 

Like almost every other holiday celebrated in the United States, Valentine’s Day has been taken over by commercialization and consumerism. It is just another excuse to buy unnecessary things in the name of love. 

Every year around January, store aisles are stocked with red and pink items like candy, cards and preassembled gift packages. There are many problems with mass-produced gifts like these.

For example, the giant stuffed teddy bears that are a common sight in many stores usually cost at least $50. Gifts like these are often unappreciated since they don’t require much thought in picking them out. Even if someone wanted one as a gift for Valentine’s Day, most people aren’t going to keep a 4-foot tall stuffed bear for more than a few years before it ends up in the trash. So not only are typical gifts often unwanted, but they are also a waste of money and harmful to the environment. 

Just think of all of the thousands of products that are produced for this holiday, and especially how long people are going to keep them. Maybe if they are sentimental they will cherish them for life, but that isn’t the case for most. Relationships end. Fresh roses die. People move, and then there are thousands of stuffed animals and cheap heart-shaped jewelry littering the world’s landfills.

Another downside of the excessive consumerism that is promoted around the holiday is the immense pressure it puts on people to get their partners extravagant gifts and create a perfect Valentine’s Day experience for them. 

Some people like buying and receiving gifts, and there is nothing wrong with that. The problem is people feeling like they have to spend large amounts of money on getting their significant other a perfect gift. 

Social media only exacerbates this problem and makes it a competition with people posting about their extravagant Valentine’s Day presents or surprises. This pressure to have the perfect day and gift can just cause unneeded stress and take the fun out of celebrating a relationship. 

People aren’t evil or wrong if they enjoy celebrating Valentine’s Day. The issue is the needless consumerism and materialism that is pushed by corporations around the holiday and people being pressured to take part in it. 

That being said, there are some ways you can take part in the holiday in a more relaxed and sustainable way. 

Instead of buying the stereotypical Valentine’s gifts, such as a stuffed bear, get your partner something they will truly like. This doesn’t have to be the most perfect gift ever or an expensive one, just something that demonstrates you put some thought into a gift that won’t be thrown into a landfill any time soon.

Better yet, take the time to create a handmade gift or card. No matter how simple it is, everyone appreciates gifts that had love and time put into them.