Why I didn't buy flowers and chocolates on Valentine's Day

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A man holds flowers on Valentine's Day last week. (Net)

Editor,

Over the past few decades it has been very hard to ignore the sea of red gifts and boxes of chocolates lining the aisles in most stores around the world during this period. Up to today it is still hard.

It’s about time we started thinking like there is no box.

We celebrated Valentine’s Day last Saturday. While we pondered how to best surprise our loved ones, many parts of Africa are being hammered with multiple extreme weather events. With increasing malaria outbreaks in South Africa, air and waterborne diseases, increasing temperatures and droughts, all is not well with our environment. This increase in warmer weather throughout the world is becoming the new normal. Climate change is real.

While discussions of political solutions to climate change are beginning to circulate, we can continue with our own personal efforts to reduce our individual carbon footprints.

Rather than focusing on those red and chocolate filled aisles, why not look outside the box and give a gift that will truly make a difference by declaring our love with the planet?

Climate change affects the things we love most: our children’s future, our hobbies, our passions, our lifestyles, our safety and wellbeing. Let’s act on climate change, for the love of everything we hold dear.

On Valentine’s Day, I abstained from buying flowers and chocolates. I instead took pictures of things I love and fear losing due to the effects of climate change and shared them on social media and with all my networks. I asked everyone who cares about the future of our planet to do the same. You may not abstain from buying your loved ones flowers and chocolates but you can’t fail to take pictures of those things that matter to you. We need to use all possible means to show politicians and all those in decision-making roles that climate change is something we all care about.

We need to show our love by sharing what we love and how it could be impacted by climate change. You can also wear green instead of red. You can also plant a tree in honor of someone you love.

Instead of giving cut flowers on Valentine’s Day, why not give a tree? According to the Arbor Day Foundation, planting trees helps to fight climate change. Through the natural process of photosynthesis, trees absorb CO2 and other pollutant particulates, then store the carbon and emit pure oxygen.

Let us always celebrate Valentine while keeping our climate safer for future generations.

Tim Mugerwa, President at African Youth Union (AYU) and Climate Reality Leader

Pretoria, South Africa