Five Steps to an Eco-Friendly Easter Basket
I love Easter. This amazing holiday has mostly evaded commercial co-optation, so I don't have to spend the whole month addressing how to buy better for it, but many of us do still get a visit from the Easter Bunny, and honestly, I think that rabbit can do better. These last few years, the Easter basket has grown from treats into another Christmas, filling huge vessels with toys, gifts, and all sorts of plastic-wrapped treats. It feels out of control, but we can get it back.
I have a few ideas and suggestions of how to honor this day better by showing more respect to God's Earth and the people he has made by creating less waste, buying less, and supporting our own communities and people.
This may seem a little early, but with some planning, you can avoid the last minute trip to Walmart and do your Easter basket shopping in more positive ways. Let's get to it!
1. Cut your Old Grass
Oh plastic Easter grass. When you think about it, you are basically the plastic bags of holidays. No one needs you. If we all only make one change to our approach to Easter this year, let's STOP buying this environmental blight disguised as pastel sweetness. Lucky for all of us, lots of recycled paper options exist.
I am trying to get a basis for plastic grass, so you can weigh your options, but this plastic grass was seven dollars for one bag. Some way better options:
Make your own. Do you have a shredder? Just recycle paper you already have to make grass?
Hearthsong- Green Easter Grass, shredded paper- Less clear where it is made, and if you can get recycled paper, why get virgin paper (looking at you, paper towels), but it's affordable and way better than plastic- 15.75
Not eco-friendly enough? You overachiever, you! You can actually get real Easter grass from companies like Vermont Hay Company. So guaranteed biodegradable! I honestly didn't even know it was a thing, so yay world, you are strange and wonderful.
1 1/2. And while we are at it, skip the grocery store plastic baskets!
If you don't already have something to reuse, check consignment stores for baskets. Even look for small wood or wicker ones in stores. You can always spray paint them (just don't do it the night before), so look for form not color. I bought our baskets from Goodwill for about a dollar each, and they are all beautiful. Buying things used creates less waste and keeps perfectly good items out of landfills.
If you want something fancier, think about a basket made of wicker or cloth that will last you many many years. Also, really think about the size. Stores keep pushing bigger and bigger baskets, but will your family know the difference? Buying less (and smaller) is one of the best ways to go green. Pom Pom Fringe (in Maine) makes gorgeous braided baskets. These seagrass belly baskets would also make a beautiful Easter basket.
No matter what, avoiding a plastic basket is a perfectly great baby step to being a good steward this holiday.
2. Plant your Seeds
Rather than just putting candy in the basket (or worse yet, filling it with toys and junk), think about using Easter as an opportunity to grow something yourself. Put some seed packets into the basket and try an herb garden or some carrots for the Easter bunny! It might be a special new spin or tradition, and it can also teach a lot about how things grow.
Not wanting to overload your child with candy certainly makes sense, but overloading with toys is not a huge improvement. Shifts like this can help reframe the day.
3. Get Creatively Eggy
I know in my family bought one of those egg kits every year, and it was always kind of fun to get the sparkly one or the one with stickers etc. But you know what we always ended up using most? Food coloring in our regular mugs. Sometimes drawing with crayons is good as well (those poor white ones are always underused anyway). Rather than buying one of those boxes, which usually come with the plastic cups or plastic spoons, use what you already have in your cupboard (my mother in law adds a teeny bit of vinegar that turns out to really give the eggs some vavoom) and a little creativity. If you need more dye, at least you know you can use food coloring later. I love this color guide to make any color you want from food coloring. Want more creative ideas? Check out this blog!
If you want to use even more natural ingredients, Pinterest has lots of great suggestions for natural dyes. These ones are vibrant, and these are really sophisticated. This link also has natural dyes way down at the bottom. I love these ideas, and it gives me hope we can cut out one thing we 100% don't need!
You want to do an egg hunt? Me too, they are my favorite. Those plastic eggs are pretty cheap, so it feels like nothing to pick some up at the store, but they actually do come with a high cost. Most aren't recyclable, so that waste will live on past anyone participating in that egg hunt. You know that one that you never tracked down? It will be there forever. So what do you do? Two great options that beat buying new plastic eggs-
-Use old ones! My Nana does an egg hunt every year, and the eggs the kids find now are some of the same eggs we used years ago. MANY years ago (when did we get old?). So use the ones you already have, and if you don't have any, think about reaching out and asking your Facebook friends or Buy Nothing group. Even check out your consignment stores! Especially if you aren't going to do it on the actual day. You can use them and have them back easily. You could even check consignment stores.
- Buy bioplastic eggs. Eco eggs are made in the United States out of bio-plastic that is 100% compostable. Awesome! These eco-friendly eggs are too, though they seem to come in more regular plastic packaging. I am curious what happens to that one egg no one can find, but otherwise, I think this is a genius idea that is still plenty affordable. All the reviews are glowing as well, describing them as sturdier than regular plastic eggs. If you can't find ones to use already, please buy these ones.
-Buy wood eggs. Alright, to be honest I think you would have to be really fancy to use wood eggs for a hunt, but these ones from RVANaturals might make a beautiful decoration or craft project for everyone to share?
4. Cut the Gifts (it's not Christmas, for Goodness Sake)
This picture is floating around facebook and haunting my dreams forever. Because nothing says easter like a kiddie pool and baseball bat. You all remember the classic Easter story where Jesus leaves the tomb and invites everyone over for a pool party? Yeah, me either. If this is your Easter dream, I am sorry but you have lost the plot. You aren't doing your kids any favors either.
This honestly was a pet peeve of mine for a long time, but in the face of the effects of our over-consumption (climate change, dirty water, the gross mistreatment of other human beings), turning the most holy of holidays into a big gift-giving to do really burns my toast. I think candy is plenty. I don't think video games or dolls or anything in this atrocity make any sense within the context of the holiday, and it is wildly wasteful to turn it into a large gifting event when a really fun egg hunt does the trick. Your kid is too young for candy? Put a few oranges in and call it a day. You don't owe your toddler anything, so giving them toys seems like too much.
Don't buy in to advertisers' suggestion that what your child wants is one of those giant, toy-filled, plastic-wrapped balls of nonsense. Be free, eat a little chocolate, and keep the day about the glorious return of Jesus Christ and not about yet another wishlist and purchase. It's just not that day, and I feel like it's a dirty anti-religious trick to make the day all about what you got. Booo. Try again, Earthlings! You cannot co-opt this beautiful day!
5. Get your Candy Local (and Made in America)
Around Christmas, I posted a giant list of American-Made chocolates. USA Love List (a blog we LOVE here) has a list of American-made Easter candy as well. Take a second, and check that blog- peeps, Jelly Bellies, and other jelly beans are all made here. You have good options! With a little bit of research, a trip to a local candy store, and a stop at costco or a local grocer for peeps, and you have filled your baskets. No need to head off to Walmart or Kmart and buy plastic bags filled some candy made who knows where. You can do this.
Need a little filler? What about baking a treat yourself?!? I bet you can even do All-American baskets without too much challenge or effort.
Another way to make your candy greener is to get more candy wrapped in foil and less wrapped in plastic. Local chocolates tend to come wrapped in foil or paper more, where as Hershey's does mostly plastic. Another easy switch!
So encouraged by this season and this holiday every year. Do you have any ideas on how to green Easter even more? Please share!