Around 100 million roses are grown for Valentine’s Day in the United States alone, emitting 9,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and although bouquets of red are great for soothing a thorny heart, they often end up in the landfill.
What if this Valentine’s Day, we celebrate our love for the earth, as well as those close to our hearts, by giving a gift that grows?
Not only are seed card valentines easy to make, they’re also a fun way to upcycle paper. In the end, you can still shower your loved ones with the joy of flowers, but even better, they get to experience the entire growing process themselves.
There is room to play in this creative process. You can add splashes of color, cut the paper into fun shapes, or add them to handmade cards. With so many possibilities, the only limit is your imagination!
All you need to begin is 10-12 sheets of paper. Any kind of uncoated paper works. Construction paper, printer paper, tissue paper, newspaper, and notebook paper are all great options.
*GREEN TIP* Try to use paper that would otherwise end up in the trash or recycling bin. I used sheets of paper from an old college notebook.
To make the paper pulp:
Tear your paper into tiny pieces, place them in a blender with two cups of hot water, and leave to soak. After an hour, blend the mixture, stirring every few seconds with a spatula until it becomes a gooey pulp.
Now it’s time to add your seeds!
The kind of seeds you use is up to you. Native wildflowers are the easiest for a beginning green thumb, not to mention a sweet gift for local pollinators. That being said, if you want to add a splash of fresh flavor to your kitchen, you could opt for herb seeds. I absolutely love rosemary, so I decided to give the seeds a try.
Pick whatever calls to you, add a handful of seeds to the pulp, and give the mixture a good stir. Then, place the lid back on your blender and slowly drain as much of the loose, excess water into the sink as you can. This will make the actual paper forming process a lot easier, which brings us to the fun part!
Get ready to set and form your paper.
Cover a cookie sheet with two paper towels, or for a few extra earth love points, you can use the flat, smooth side of a cloth towel. Smooth the pulp over the surface of the towel until your “paper” is formed to about ¼ - ⅛ inch thick. I found this easiest to do by gently flattening the pulp with the stiff palm of my hand.
To dry your formed pulp into paper:
Add another layer of towels and weigh everything down with a glass baking dish. Wait an hour, replace the towels with a fresh, dry set, and return the baking dish. After another hour, use a dry towel to soak up any excess water. Once you’ve removed as much moisture as possible, it’s time to transfer the paper to a cooling rack.
The easiest way to do this is by placing the cooling rack upside down on top of the paper and cookie sheet, then gently flip it so the paper is on top of the rack. Gingerly peel off the towels and allow the seed paper to sit for 24 hours, give or take, until it is completely dry. To speed the process up a bit, flip the seed paper over once the top is dry.
Now that your seed paper is ready, it's time to channel your inner artist!
The creation of your valentine is yours to play with. One idea is to cut the paper into small hearts using a heart template. You can then glue the hearts onto another card using one small dot of glue in the middle (for easy removal), or gently inscribe your confessions of love directly onto your valentine. Have fun with it and know that whatever you do with your heart is bound to blossom into love.
Thanks to this how-to blog for being a great resource for this post.
Happy Valentine's Day!
About the Author
Eden Rowland serves as education coordinator for the Land & Water Stewards team, located at the University of Northern Iowa's Center for Energy & Environmental Education. Born and raised in Colorado Springs, Eden discovered a passion for rewilding and dreams of helping others reconnect with nature. As a mother of two, she hopes to learn more about creating experiences for parents to explore the interconnectedness of wellbeing, environmental health, and raising earth-conscious kids. In her free time, you can find her dancing among the trees with her babies or wrapped up in a book.