February may have only just started today, but you've probably been seeing stealthy displays of plush hearts, overpriced chocolates, and pushy jewelry ads creeping into your stores since before Christmas. And it's no surprise they were eager to start pushing it; love is apparently a high-value commodity.
So what is the price of love, you ask? In 2018, that answer was ~$19.6 BILLION dollars.
Yeah. That's a mega-butt-load of chocolate, flowers, jewelry, plushies, fancy dinners, spa services, etc. And while I'm just positive your loved one will forever cherish the mediocre chocolate heart you grabbed at the grocery that says "I Wuv You," let's stop to think for a moment about the impact we as consumers could have made with that whopping $19B:
Handed every one of the 38,000+ homeless veterans in the US a payday of half a million dollars.
Provided $34K to every American experiencing homelessness per statistics gathered in 2017.
Given a gift of ~$190K to every public school in the US to purchase books, technology, and make other improvements.
Buy a $260 library of books for every child in the US under 18.
Donated $2,500 for every single dog or cat abandoned to an animal shelter for a solid year.
More than tripled the budget for the National Cancer Institute to fund cancer research.
Funded NASA for a year. (Fancy a jaunt to Mars, anyone?)
And insert more devastating impacts to your favorite charities here, ad infinitum.
We may not think much about our individual purchases in terms of how they could change the world--$10 here, $5 there, it just seems so small, right? But we as a mass of a few hundred million consumers wield an incredible economic Mjölnir that has the power to change the world as we know it.
Let's use it this year. I'm issuing a challenge to take whatever amount you would have spent on your traditional gift and make a donation in the name of love to the charity of your Valentine's choice.
Take the 2019 Giving in the Name of Love Challenge (#GiveLoveChallenge) and share your favorite charities with the world. Do it for love!