THE GIFT OF HEALING TOUCH IS ESSENTIAL—ESPECIALLY NOW

By Camille Baldini

In this current time, during the crisis imposed by COVID-19, we find it imperative to discuss the proverbial elephant in the room in our space and industry: the concept of touch.

Our world has endured much in this global pandemic and it has caused many to retreat to home for remote work, learning, and shelter-in-place restrictions.

This limited access to community has put us in a mental, physical, and emotional state of yearning for more interaction; this overwhelming need for interpersonal connection has us figuratively starved in many ways that we may not have quite experienced before.

Having arrived here, let’s consider how we can address and restore comfortability and relief in experiencing healing touch for the purposes of our collective wellbeing.

It is a journey and process.

To start, we must understand that in these very new circumstances, our approach to becoming more comfortable with outside interactions and experiences will be a process and unique personal journey.

It is certainly not a race to normalcy, especially right now; nothing is normal about any of our routines. We must revisit the concept of learning to crawl before we can walk and then run again.

Physiologically, our central nervous system must acclimate to the understandable, reasonable stress of this time.

We have resorted to our most critical routines and behaviors and have not necessarily considered those things that we must do to support our health and wellness needs.

In our personal lives, we’re all finding ways to balance and acclimate in our behaviors. Evaluating reasonable risks against our individual need to stay safe, while also satisfying our holistic needs, is indeed the new-normal. We are all learning how to do this without compromising ourselves and our close-knit communities. There is no right or wrong in how we do this, and it will work differently for everyone.

There are wellness benefits in healing touch.

We believe that healing touch is vital to our wellbeing, and that belief is the core and mission of what drives our existence and who we are at Osmosis.

We also understand how delicate the balance of revisiting our, or any, wellness spa can be against shared, new realities.

In recent months, we’ve heard from all over just how much people are missing their wellness interactions and how they are slowly integrating their yesteryear spa routines back during this time. From physical therapy and rehabilitation to massage treatments, the nurture and healing benefits of touch should not be underestimated—nor should they be considered luxury.

In fact, California has recently approved indoor massage as an essential service when prescribed by a doctor. Massage offers relief for patients struggling with any of the following conditions, which may include chronic stress, anxiety, insomnia, sports injuries, arthritis, soft tissue injuries or strain, headaches, digestive disorders, and more.

Both indoor or outdoor massage at Osmosis may be covered by your Health Savings Account (HSA), Flexible Savings Account (FSA), workers compensation, or private insurance. Prior approval from your insurance company is recommended and a reimbursement would follow your submission of a receipt from Osmosis. We believe that our massage treatment is beneficial for both health and wellness.

Wellness is a lifestyle and way of living.

Currently, we are observing a notable resurgence in priority of care and wellness during the pandemic. It is becoming a way of life, more than ever now, to make every intentional effort to create the moments of peace and space that refuel us in our daily lives.

From home to work, and everything in between, we support our existing and growing community of guests and patrons in their discovery and balancing of wellness in the face of adversity. Sometimes we all wonder what true wellness should look like, but the truth is there are no hard-and-fast rules or rigidity to what wellness is; but instead simply learning to navigate the flexibility required to be well in mind, body, and spirit—especially now.

Stay well, friends. And do your intentional best to not make concessions on your wellness needs, whatever they may positively be. May the gift of healing touch continue to nurture us along the way. All our love and support to you and your community as we all get through a truly pivotal time. We are here to serve our community, now more than ever, in providing a sanctuary for healing and peace.

We’ve Got the Perfect Lineup for Your Next Girl’s Getaway

By Camille Baldini

Do you really need a reason to start scheduling your next girls’ getaway? If you don’t and are already keen on finding any opportunity to book time with your gal pals, then that’s phenomenal. But if you really do need some good inspiration on why Osmosis is your next destination for your pending girls’ getaway, then you’ve arrived. 

Osmosis Day Spa Sanctuary is located in the historic town of Freestone, nestled between river and coast, redwoods and vineyards, at the Gateway to Sonoma Wine Country. Just an hour’s drive from San Francisco, hub of gorgeous bay views, top-rated cuisine, and a booming tech economy. 

We certainly cannot think of a better girls’ vacation than here!

Whether a Bay Area native or traveling into town from a further destination, we’ve got a lineup for you and your girls that will leave nothing to be desired. 

Unwind

Ready to unwind and spa in a Zen setting that will leave both your spirit and skin nourished and renewed? Check. Looking to experience nature in its full glory? Check. Craving to wine and dine in legendary destinations for innovative eats? Then, look no further. We’ve got the full roundup for your girls’ getaway right here. 

At the heart of travel is the journey of the destination, which is where we’ll start. No matter where you’re coming from, near or far, once you arrive in the area, you’ll spot the not-to-be-missed coastline features, breathtaking views, and ventures. Delight in a truly charismatic region and rare gem-of-a-community with stunning beaches, cliff-side hiking, lush forests, and trails meant for biking and exploring. 

Entrust

Entrust your getaway to the Sonoma Coast via Bodega Bay or take the 10-mile, scenic roadway along Bohemian Highway, where you will find a trio of townships—Freestone, Occidental, and Monte Rio—with small-town charm that cannot be found anywhere else. Or if coming from out of town, Sonoma County (STS) Airport, in Santa Rosa, CA, will land you in the middle of pastoral tranquility. Freestone is home to Osmosis and is particularly special because it is Sonoma County’s first historic district. In this small, yet formidable community, you will find Osmosis, the highlight of your girls’ getaway. 

With deep reverence for sharing and providing sacred Japanese healing rituals, Osmosis is one-of-a-kind in offering our signature spa treatment, the Cedar Enzyme Bath, and remains the one and only day spa in the US to offer this authentic, therapeutic service. 

Benefit

Both warm and fragrant, this particular treatment boasts a myriad of health benefits including a more balanced central nervous system, joint and muscle pain relief, and skin exfoliation. This is truly a must-do when you’re here. Cozy up for an informal tea ceremony before your session and meditation in the gardens following your 75-minute facial or massage. Then, visit our gift shop for organic skincare products and other totally unique treasures found in the boutique. 

Eat

From spa onward, get ready to celebrate and support artisan food culture in what is being called the New Province among Sonoma County’s distinct and beloved small towns. Then, you and your girls can extend your relaxation from a day of therapeutic spa treatments into the night by experiencing local restaurants and wineries. You’ll immediately become a regular to some of the most innovative and diverse wining and dining scenes that California is well-known for. 

Naturegirls group

This getaway is one we certainly believe you and crew will be satisfied with. It will allow you to unplug and immerse yourself into an area that is so connected to life and nature’s elements, which will beautifully surround you and your favorite girls. And, not to mention, superb Insta-worthy photos to swoon over again and again. Unapologetically cue the skyline photos, spa session, and foodie snaps for others to see and experience, too. Then, be prepared to gab about a getaway to remember for years to come. 

Despite whether you end or begin your girls’ getaway with Osmosis, it’s the perfect kickstart to deeply enrich the moment for everyone involved. Experience the tremendously satisfying peace and tranquility that going inward, while being together with friends, can bring; it’s a collective moment to mindfully relish and cherish. And, hopefully, a moment you and your chosen gal pals, will agree to continue and make a tradition of. 

Osmosis is here to provide a healing environment in resonance with nature that promotes clarity and connection. So, come ready for an experience of ultimate relaxation and renewal—both equal parts unforgettable and enchanting. 

Learn more about our spa treatments and book your group today.

Related Reads:
Overnight Vacation Lodging
Local Restaurants & Dining
Exploration Activities
Freestone History
Map & Directions

 

Former Olympic Champion Uses Cedar Enzyme Bath for Training Recovery

sports massage

Enjoy riding and training on the infamous roads of Sonoma County? Are you a resident or a visitor hoping to get more out of your training and riding on our beautiful roads? Wishing you could recover quicker, more completely and get more from each workout? Try a visit to Osmosis, conveniently located in Freestone. With a bike-friendly environment and its unique offering of Cedar Enzyme Baths, Osmosis is an ideal training tool for any cyclist.

An Enzyme bath is an ideal means to totally relax and revive after a vigorous workout. This Japanese heat treatment is a biologically induced process that removes lactic acid from your muscles, reduces inflammation, and increases mobility. Former National and World Champion and Sonoma County resident Giana Roberge, AKA the Speed Queen, became a true believer following a grueling 30 European tour when she was totally resurrected after one Cedar Enzyme Bath treatment.

The Cedar Enzyme Bath was an amazing experience. It made me feel clean, energized, revitalized, more flexible and the muscle soreness that had plagued me for weeks was gone after one treatment. It became part of my training regime for my most stressful training blocks.

Choose one of our packages combining a Cedar Bath with a 75-minute massage from one of our gifted body workers and you have a post cycling experience designed to maximize your  hard work by giving your body a complete and cleansing recovery. Fully restored, detoxed, and flexible means better blood flow in your muscles which will not only allow them to work harder but they will be less likely to incur injury. With flexible and clean muscles, fatigue will be less, power output will increase, and you will, literally, be able to pedal faster.

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Our exceptional spa services and serene meditation garden add up to a fantastic enhancement to your Sonoma cycling experience. Osmosis is extending a special welcome mat to all cyclists. Ride in during the month of August 2018 and get a FREE Pagoda Upgrade!

*Pagoda subject to availability.

A Guide to Traveling with Your MILF (most important lifelong friend)

Thanks to the amazing, amazing Osmosis Day Spa and AutoCamp at Russian River, our time together was memorable to say the least. Osmosis Spa was kind enough to offer us time in their cedar enzyme bath followed by a couple’s massage—which was very fitting considering we’re platonic soulmates. We spent the night in a beautful  Airstream and fell asleep dreaming about never leaving.

Below is a play by play of our experience written by myself and Abby, followed by an illustrated vacation bonding guide on ways to cultivate deeper connections with your besties (curated by us), plus ways to save for and plan a friendiversary trip! We finish up with some Q&A around topics of womxn’s friendships, jealousy, and making long-distance work!

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Abby (@astclaire):

It’s hard for anyone to know me and not know Victoria. No matter who I’m interacting with, chances are I will bring up her name and a funny or sentimental anecdote within the first five minutes of conversation. As time goes by and our friendship progresses, I’ve realized how much of me is actually her. It’s nearly impossible to know my essence without simultaneously knowing hers. What started out as a friendship based on an immediate connection has transformed into somewhat of a conjoined spirit.

I often joke about how Victoria is my boyfriend, and there’s undoubtedly some truth in that. I allude to her constantly. I’ll simply refer to her as “my platonic soulmate” or “my most best friend” (even though I am aware at how grammatically incorrect that statement is). No matter what term of endearment or curious pet name I call her, it will always be followed by my beaming smile and a whole lot of joy.

The safety I feel in Victoria and my relationship is unmatched. The comfort we feel with ourselves and with each other is truly something special. She is the person who has seen me through some of the most challenging days, but still shows up and validates me more than anyone else. While a majority of our friendship is all sunshine, it is one that has required vigilant navigation during our lowest points. It’s hard and it’s beautiful. And I’m so thankful for her.

And as our friendship and spirits move closer, we physically move farther apart. We used to be neighbors in St. Louis (okay…a 10 minute drive, but now it feels like we practically lived next door!) until I moved back to my home city of Chicago. Between then and now, weekend trips to St. Louis were a staple in my life. We would pull out our metaphorical planners (i.e. cell phones because this is the twenty-first century) and see when our packed schedules would allow for a visit or two.

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This past summer, Victoria moved out to Oakland, and then I moved to Paris. Now, I’m back in Chicago and while Chicago is geographically closer to Oakland than Paris, it is still a vast distance.

Last week, I was able to visit Victoria’s new home for the first time since her relocation in August. Ever since I bought my plane ticket on Black Friday (thanks, Spirit Airlines for your odd deals, little leg room, and carry-on restrictions!), I’ve been patiently awaiting the day I get to return to Northern California and the company of my most treasured friend.

While the trip didn’t start out in any sort of ease or splendor due to my stupidity of not double checking at what time my flight departed and therefore arrived to the airport 20 minutes before the gate closed (cue public meltdown), the rest of our time was pretty damn great.

The morning after I arrived, we set off for one of the reasons for this trip: Osmosis Day Spa. We were patiently waiting for this particular Thursday for quite some time, and were looking forward to an afternoon consisting of bathing in cedar and getting all of our back kinks worked out via some massage therapists. Although a cloud of fog and light rain descended over the Bay Area, we had a pleasant drive north nonetheless. One moment that is cemented in my mind is driving down winding roads surrounded with eucalyptus trees while listening to the serene “Perpetuum Mobile” by the Penguin Orchestra Cafe—a song Victoria had introduced to me on my birthday this past June. Oh, that and the middle-aged couple that was aggressively making out behind me when we stopped for lunch.

Before you picture a tub of water infused with cedar pines, let me correct you. This therapeutic body treatment originates from Japan, but Osmosis opened the first of its kind in America—in the town of Sebastopol, to be exact. The baths are a mixture of cedar pulp and rice bran, in case you were wondering. Osmosis describes the cedar bath as a “warm and fragrant treatment offering a myriad of health benefits, from improving circulation to relieving joint and muscle pain, and the living enzymes deeply and thoroughly clean your skin, leaving your entire body exuding a radiant glow.” Sounds like the best, no?

Our sedated state was set in stone after we brushed ourselves off (literally) and got ourselves ready for the even deeper relaxation of a 75-minute full body massage. If our platonic getaway wasn’t romantic enough, our massage followed the word “couple’s” and the predestined essential oil blend was appropriately titled something around sensuality (ultimately we opted for the blend with the least romantic title: “Lymph and Lung Decongestant”).

 

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Victoria (@victoria.emanuela): 

We had the joy of working with Leah and Micaela as our massage therapists, which we highly recommend their magical hands and energy if you ever visit Osmosis. As our time together came to an end, Leah and Micaela left the room, so Abby and I could slowly rise in privacy (we were nakey). I wish I could say that Abby and I rose from our massage tables like glowing goddesses, but we looked more like glowing drunk trolls, with our hair flying in every direction and eyes halfway shut from being so relaxed. Quite honestly, I think about that cedar bath and massage on a weekly basis, especially while driving into San Francisco in early morning traffic (cue road rage). The whole experience at Osmosis is something I’ll always treasure and the generosity they extended to us was incredibly kind.

*What Abby didn’t tell you, however, was the special moment we shared while being submerged under pounds of cedar. Although we couldn’t move, we still managed to find a point of contact. I could only wiggle my pinky finger and started digging a little hole, to which I then discovered Abby’s pinky finger! There we laid nakey, under the warm steaming cedar, with our pinkies interlaced. Amidst the absolute preciousness and awkward laughs, I’m very thankful it was her pinky finger I found and not something else!
After our amazing couple’s massage, we stumbled downstairs into the changing room and said goodbye to our robes. Osmosis provides its guests with these luxuriously soft, oversized robes, and we shed a couple tears upon letting them go. Once we had our clothes on, we took a stroll through the zen garden Osmosis had on its property, eventually finding ourselves in the quiet oasis that was the meditation garden. As a meditation teacher and longtime practitioner of meditation (aka how I keep sane), I was low key freaking out from excitement (not very zen). Upon taking a few deep breaths, I calmed myself down, and took a gentle seat on the meditation cushion. Abby sat on one next to me and we meditated together in front of a serene pond, which was oscillating from the delicate raindrops falling onto its surface. I remember how fresh and earthy the smells were and how quiet it was, you could almost hear the rain falling through the air. It would’ve been the most perfect opportunity to propose (hint to all you lovebirds out there looking for ideas), but instead of proposing, we walked back to my car and took off to AutoCamp at Russian River.

AutoCamp is the equivalent of a design hotel, but with restored vintage Airstreams that have a gorgeous, minimal, and chic aesthetic. Abby and I were both drooling over the camp’s aesthetically pleasing surroundings because we’re minimalists and huge design enthusiasts. Don’t get me started on the feng shui of an interior space and don’t get Abby started on type fonts, you’ll never leave and we’ll most certainly talk your ear off all night. The main gathering space at Autocamp is incredibly well designed and has a modern fireplace with a Scandinavian look that feels something like a hip Norwegian cabin. It’s a great place to go hang out, play a board game, share a bottle of wine, and gaze at the roaring fire. The surrounding town is also quite lovely and quaint! Abby and I ventured out to explore and ate at Boon Eat + Drink—the food and wine were the bomb dot com. AutoCamp is also nestled in the forest and the smell of pine takes over the air, it’s honestly magical and we slept like babies. The bed in the airstream we stayed in was very comfortable, but I’m only saying this specifically because I want to tell you another story about Abby and I that relates to beds…

During our annual friendiversary trip last year, we went to Copenhagen and decided to hop over for a couple days to London. Abby had never been to London and I lived their in my early twenties (study abroad), so I was massively excited to show her one of my favorite cities. After a long night out and navigating through crowds of people, I got some essential things stolen out of my purse, like my phone. Abby and I had separate flights and the thought of traveling without being able to reach anyone made me very anxious. That night, we rode back to our Airbnb and I couldn’t manage to shake the disappointment from the evening’s unfortunate situation. Even though we constantly profess our love for each other with words and occasionally strokes of the arm, Abby and I aren’t really the cuddling type in our friendship. But that night, my body clearly needed some tender support, and in my sleep I koala hugged Abby ALL night (like low key cuddled the shit out of her).. I completely tied myself around her body, and of course I have zero recollection of this, but what makes me laugh the most is picturing Abby just laying there like a pencil unable to move. It goes to show how much she loves me that she let me gently suffocate her all night because I felt so anxious.

Despite the anxiety of theft, Abby is my favorite person to travel with and the stories we rack up on our adventures are enough to scar our future children for life. We both love to adventure and live to travel, hoarding every penny we save to go on trips.  We vibe so well while navigating new spaces together, mostly because we act like our lives are a comedy stand-up show and never take ourselves seriously. When Abby and I take on new cities, we love making lists of all the best concept stores, well designed coffee shops, design hotels, and restaurants we want to be inspired by and experience. We then walk around for miles on end visiting each one and soaking in their energy—even if that means just spending a few moments in a stunning lobby. If you ever want to check out some of the places we’ve been, Abby illustrates gorgeous city guides that include our trips to CopenhagenLondon, and Barcelona.

One of the things that bonds us more than anything is our shared sense of humor, which I mentioned a bit ago, we quite literally could banter for hours on end. One of my favorite things in this world is making Abby laugh—honestly, I live for it. I look forward every year to planning our annual friendiversary trip because we talk about the memories forever after (and by memories, I mean all the painfully awkward situations we get ourselves into). Abby never seizes to amaze me with how much she constantly shows up for me and supports my growth. We’ve been through quite the ride together, deep dives and high climbs, but it’s truly been a blessing. We’ve put our friendship through the test of dismantling internalized misogyny and the ways women have been conditioned to relate to one another (and yes, there’s always more work to be done). Luckily, I can say with a full heart that we’ve set quite the foundation for a very solid connection, which has been one of the most rewarding experiences of my life. I have no shame around being my best self because she sees me, supports me, and loves me unconditionally—she gives me wings, and that’s exactly what friends should do for each other. We passionately work towards creating a secure center within our relationship, by creating a secure center within ourselves, and that is key because people can only meet you as deeply as they’ve met themselves.

I love Abby, so much, she deeply inspires me and is an amazing human being that I get to spend my life growing alongside and learning from. Abby reminds me of my mom in many ways, and through our relationship, I’ve been able to heal many of the wounds from childhood that I experienced with my mom. Why? Because there was enough distance and yet a familiar ground. I felt safe to process vulnerability, forgiveness, create boundaries and ask for my needs to be met. The framework Abby and I created in our relationship helped my mom and I create a stronger framework within ours, which I’m very grateful for. This is exactly why humans need each other because we serve as mirrors for one another, and sometimes, the ones who change our lives for the better, are the ones who show us exactly where we need to heal the most. They’re the ones who show us that we are not hard to love, but still hold us accountable in our pursuit to become the best version of ourselves.

Friendships, just like romantic relationships, take work. They are only cultivated through radical presence, owning our insecurities, and healthy communication. In any friendship, you get two very complex human beings with their own set of belief systems, baggage, and needs. It’s two people, like Abby and I, coming into a space where we must navigate trust, intimacy, conflict, and love in ways that meet our needs and support each other’s growth.

It ain’t no magic carpet ride, but if two people have the genuine intention of making it work, then it’s absolutely worth it.

So. damn. worth. it.


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BOOK TRAVEL

Make sure you exchange schedules months (maybe even a year!) in advance, so you can both be prepared.

Don’t know where to go? On a budget?

You don’t have to plan a fancy excursion to travel with your friends. Here are things you can do locally:

Visit GlampinghubHipcamp, or Airbnb and find a cool apartment or cabin to split! You can find something in your downtown area and have a weekend “staycation,” or take a roadtrip a few hours outside of your city to a rad little cabin.

Try Secretflying for cheap flight deals! You can get deal to many amazing destinations from major cities, like $380 round trip tickets to Paris, or even Venice during certain parts of the year.

If you want to celebrate an annual friendiversary and take a trip, try starting a friendiversary savings account. We both have a travel savings account for our annual trip that we dedicate a small weekly amount to until it builds to cover many travel costs. Remember, you’re splitting costs! If you both commit to putting $10 a week into your travel savings for a year, that’s almost $1,000 you can use towards travel expenses and an annual trip.

Depending on where you end up going, especially if it’s abroad, be sure to do some research on public transportation and how to best navigate it.


CURATE A CITY GUIDE

  • Create a list of what restaurants, museums, shops, and places you’d love to see together!
  • Start a Pinterest board in advance to get excited for your trip.
  • Get the most out of your trip by planning out what you’ll do each day, so you can see everything you desire without wasting time or stressing.
  • Allow time for rest and space. Be sure to check in with each other about needing alone time, space, or stillness. Just because someone needs space, doesn’t mean they don’t want to be around you. We’re both huge introverts, so we don’t take it personally because alone time means we can recharge and be more present with each other.

MUSIC

  • Curate a playlist with your favorite songs and theme it — i.e. Friendiversary London 2018
  • Sing at the top of your lungs.
  • Record Videos.
  • Pictures are easy, but sometimes the best footage is recorded. Try recording experiences while the other person isn’t aware, so down the road you can surprise them with little moments they didn’t know you captured.
  • Get Weird.
  • Play games like “what are the odds.”
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CULTIVATE INTIMACY

Ask questions to understand each other on a deeper level. Who knows, you might learn something new!

  • Given the choice of anyone in the world, whom would you want as a dinner guest?
  • What would constitute as a “perfect” day for you? Describe it.
  • If a crystal ball could tell you the truth about yourself, your life, the future or anything else, what would you want to know?
  • What do you value most in a friendship?
  • What does friendship mean to you?
  • When do you feel the most empowered?
  • If you were presented with two buttons, one that allows you to go 5 years into the past, the other 5 years into the future, which one would you press? Why?
  • What’s something challenging that happened to you this year and what did you learn from it?
  • What’s a memory of us you often revisit that brings you positive feelings?
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TOUCH BASE

Relationships can’t grow to their utmost potential if we resist vulnerable and uncomfortable conversations.

People change and so do their needs.

Check in and ask each other these following questions to strengthen your relationship:

  • What are your needs in a friendship?
  • How can I help meet those needs?
  • How would you like me to approach a conflict with you? (Discuss conflict/resolution styles)
  • What do I do that makes you feel most loved?
  • What do I do that makes you feel most validated?
  • What do I do that makes you feel most appreciated?
  • What situations recently or the past gave you anxiety about our friendship?
  • How can we take better action to create less tension if something like that comes up again?
  • Is there something that I’ve done that has deeply hurt your feelings that you still have a hard time letting go?
  • How can we heal and move forward?
  • Discuss the balance of emotional labor in your friendship, or who tends to be the one who has to be there for the other more, or hold space more frequently. It’s important that we create balance, so both people can feel heard, seen, and held space for. Friendship wouldn’t work for us if it was always the “Abby Show” or “Victoria Show.”
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MAKE GOALS

  • Create goals for the year ahead.
  • Think of ways to be more present in each other’s lives: more brunches, shared new experiences, monthly video chat dates, random gif wars, care packages, or whatever is sustainable.
  • Acknowledge how you can better show up for each other.
  • Help hold each other accountable towards a personal goal.
  • Day dream about your next friendiversary and where you might like to visit next!

“Great minds discuss ideas. Average minds discuss events. Small minds discuss people.”  – Eleanor Roosevelt

A Greener Valentine’s Day: 5 Ways to Align With Your Love for the Planet

by  | Best Practices and ToolsClimate ChangeSustainability

You survived the holidays. But are you ready for the next big consumer-oriented holiday: Valentine’s Day?

I am a romantic at heart (I painted the heart painting above), but the tradition of celebrating love with chocolate, roses, and jewelry leaves a wake of environmental destruction that is not so romantic. Greenhouse gases, unfair labor practices, and waste are left in the wake of shipping roses from Ecuador, sourcing chocolate overseas, and mining for minerals. According to TerraPass, Americans spend about $2 billion on flowers for Valentine’s Day and purchase over 35 million heart shaped boxes of chocolate (75% of them sourced from Africa).

Over 80% of cut flowers are imported, creating a carbon footprint of over 20 million pounds of CO2. According to The Guardian, “The majority of those flowers will come from Colombia and Ecuador, two of the world’s leading producers. But these countries, and their flower industries specifically, have troubled records of abusing workers or hiring children, and your well-intentioned roses might go toward supporting some of these practices.”

Show the planet some love this Valentine’s Day and consider these five ideas for a greener day of love.

1. Make Your Own Card

Americans are expected to spend $1 billion on cards for Valentine’s Day, according to the Greeting Card Association. Be a rebel and make your own card. This idea came from my boyfriend, a third grade teacher, who has his students make cards for each other—no store bought cards allowed. Each is personalized by completing the statement, “I like (or admire) you because…” Get out some old cards, images from magazines, colored paper, glue, crayons/markers, and scissors, and make a card the old-fashioned way.

Image: Janice Sandeen

2. Take a Walk on the Wild Side

Nature makes us happier, healthier, and more creative, so this Valentine’s Day make time to get outside and take a walk on the wild side. Living in the Bay Area, it is easy to get outdoors and reconnect with nature and a date, or yourself. According to a study from Stanford access to natural areas is “vital for mental health in our rapidly urbanizing world.” Here are some of the best hikes in the Bay Area, according to KQED.

3.  Be Present Instead of Buying a Present

Mindfulness isn’t just for robe-wearing monks; it can be a gift for your relationship as well. Instead of buying your sweetie a gift, consider spending the day together at a local gem, Spirit Rock Meditation CenterOn February 17, Spirit Rock is offering Heart Practices for Couples“An opportunity for couples to awaken the heart of joy and love together…Through partner meditations, verbal and nonverbal communication exercises and group sharing, couples will practice the art of intimacy and learn skills to deepen the shared journey.

4.  Just Don’t Spend

We spend over $18 billion dollars on Valentine’s Day, with 20% of consumer’s buying jewelry. Mining for precious metals and gems for jewelry can have serious environmental and human rights implications. Here are a few gift ideas from the heart that don’t require major consumption:

  • Give a massage (add a few drops of organic essential oil to sesame oil);
  • Take some time to answer the New York Times’ 36 questions, known to cultivate love and intimacy;
  • Make a homemade meal from local, fresh ingredients;
  • Plan an activity to do together; or
  • Write a love letter.

5. Eat Ethical Chocolate

If you can’t resist buying your sweetie something sweet, take a moment to pick an ethical brand.  According to an article in Grist, for the world’s biggest chocolate makers, practices like child slave labor, rainforest demolition, and heavy reliance on GMOs are just a part of doing business. When it comes to chocolate, it is not so simple as looking for organic or fair trade label.  A great resource is Rainforest Alliance, which certifies chocolate that’s better for the environment and that ensures cocoa farmers have good living and working conditions. Grist recommends a visit to San Francisco-based Dandelion Chocolate, which exemplifies an ethical brand.

Chocolate is also fueling climate change. The HuffPost recently stressed, “Your afternoon chocolate bar may be fueling climate change, destroying protected forests and threatening elephants, chimpanzees and hippos in West Africa, research suggests.” Deforestation-linked cocoa has entered the supply chains of some of the biggest players in the chocolate industry; A report from Mighty Earth, Chocolate’s Dark Secret, found that a large amount of the cocoa used in chocolate produced by Mars, Nestle, Hershey’s, Godiva, and other major chocolate companies was grown illegally in dwindling national parks and reserves in Ivory Coast and Ghana.

The good news is that 22 major chocolate companies recently made a promise to stop destroying forests in West Africa, a huge step to save our planet’s rainforest. But this is just the start. Please consider signing the petition to tell Cadbury and Ferrero to commit to no new deforestation for cocoa worldwide.