... give your Valentine some fair-trade chocolate! Or plan an activity together; depending on how much you're willing to invest in this Hallmark holiday, you could go ice skating, make reservations at a nice restaurant, see a museum, volunteer, or even cook together. Whatever. Just no roses. Especially cheap roses. I'm serious-- do or give anything but roses!
Not only are roses cliche, they're also ruining the already fragile ecosystems of some of the developing countries from which our supermarket bouquets are exported. In Kenya, for example, the cultivation of Valentine's Day roses is draining (and polluting) Lake Naivasha, a precious and crucial source of water for the region. And in Colombia, the roses they export have been sprayed liberally with highly toxic pesticides and dipped in a myriad of chemicals by the time they hit store shelves. In addition to ruining their soil, surface water and groundwater, the workers who are repeatedly exposed to these chemicals (many of whom are single mothers) are at higher risk for health problems. Many children whose mothers came into contact with these pesticides and preservatives during their pregnancies showed signs--both physical and mental-- of developmental disabilities or delays.
So next year, consider starting a new tradition. Guys, I speak from experience when I say that, while flowers are nice, I'm much more impressed by a gift or a gesture that was well thought out and came from the heart. It doesn't have to cost a lot; in fact, I usually prefer that it doesn't! It just has to show that you care.
However, if you (and/or your Valentine) is/are dead-set on giving/receiving a colorful bouquet, consider buying organic. OrganicBouquet.com offers a variety of Earth-friendly options, including some rose alternatives that are grown a little closer to home. Potted plants are also nice (I like orchids!); they generally don't wither in a week and, when watered, can be enjoyed year round. So get creative, guys-- you can thank me later!