Everything You Need for Low-Waste and Eco-Friendly Easter Baskets

by - Monday, March 23, 2020

Easter is my absolute favorite holiday. I love the themes of rebirth, of starting again, and spring. As a Christian, the holiday is central to my faith and I love the season of Lent as well. As a mom, I love the activities that come with spring too.

As a steward of the Earth, I feel a little less excited about it every year. It seems that it has become another extreme consumer holiday. Most posts you can find about Easter baskets are about candy-free options, which basically lead to suggestions of all sorts of toys and other junk to fill baskets with. At the grocery store, I see big baskets filled with toys and wrapped in plastic all over the place. I even see the same meme every year where parents used giant umbrellas filled with toys instead of a basket.

What does all of this consumerism have to do with rebirth? With spring? With Jesus? What the heck is all of this?

Every holiday becoming a major consumer holiday only leads to more excessive plastic waste, more shipping over long distances (those toys are not being made ethically or locally), and more destructive consuming-obsessed attitudes from our kids.

Do we really want them to think that celebrating just means receiving? No matter what the cost to the planet or other people? If you are a Christian, how do you balance that kind of attitude with the actual teaching of Jesus. If you are celebrating the spring, the reawakening of our planet, why would you want to destroy it?

You can still celebrate Easter with your family without being so destructive to the planet. There are so many options out there, so you really can avoid any plastic waste or overconsumer nonsense. You can even pull it off without candy if that is your deal!

This post uses Amazon affiliate links, but I highly recommend you buy as little from Amazon as possible. Shopping from secondhand and locally-ow

So let's get to it.

secondhand easter baskets

For the Basket

Every year those vinyl, plasticky baskets show up in stores. Skip them. Instead, your best bet is either to use a basket that you already own OR go to your local secondhand stores! You will be amazed at just how many options they have and you can save all sorts of money. 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.

After that, the key is to reuse. Our kids will always have the same basket for their baskets. At some point this will probably give up the plot for them, but I think it is worth it in the end.

For the 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 paper options exist.

My best advice? Make it yourself! Start with your recycled paper file or save up construction paper scraps. I am IN LOVE with this post on how to make your own from Compost and Cava, but it doesn't even have to be that complicated. Roll/fold the paper into tubes and then cut thin strands. That's it.

You could also think about reusable fabric options- I have seen suggestions for yarn or ribbon scraps. For something cleaner (and perfect for really little ones), you could also use playscarves in the bottom of the basket. You could reuse them every year and use them as toys!

Another great option? Use last year's grass! From here on, but your Easter grass in a bag so you can reuse it. Unless something got on it, most grass can last quite a few years.

You have a couple of options if you want to buy as well:

Eco-Grass- Crinkle Cut, Recycled, Made in the USA- 3 1.25 oz bags- 12.99 (and prime if you procrastinate). I don't love the plastic bag, but worst case scenario it looks like it can be reused to hold the grass between Easters.

Crinkle-Cut Kraft Paper - There are lots of options for this out there. I would check how it is made and the packaging before choosing, but I think this would also look pretty earthy and sophisticated.

For Eco-Friendly Basket Treats

My biggest advice is to keep your baskets small and simple as possible. Make the focus finding the basket vs. receiving a bunch of gifts. Honestly, we mostly do candy, some seeds, and some oranges. I would rather have a little bit of consumable gifts than to go crazy filling our house with more stuff.

 I do not give any toys or anything like that, because I don't think it fits with the holiday and it is deeply important to me that my kids do not conflate celebrating and receiving. But I do have a few ideas in that vein, in case that fits your style or circumstance better.

Everybody has their own style, and you can be eco-friendly and do what works for you. No one should take all of this advice, but hopefully an idea or two will click with you. Here is my list of ideas.

Things to Eat

Local Candy - The best options are local- unwrapped or wrapped in tin foil. We still order our Easter candy from my hometown chocolate-makers. Avoid all Nestle and big brand plastic terribleness. Here's our list of local and ethical candy.

Bulk Bin Candy- Check bulk bins at your grocery and candy stores before you try anything else. You avoid packaging if you can come with your own bags, support local businesses, and get some really different stuff.

Yogurt-Covered Pretzels- Look like candy, but a little healthier and you can find them in most bulk bins.

Chocolate-Covered Raisins or Nuts- More gems from the bulk section. Dried fruit could work well too!

Oranges- You can fill a bunch of space by adding some oranges or other fruit. To make it more festive, you can draw on them with sharpies.

Baked Goods- Make cookies or muffins or carrot cake. You can control the sugar content, and your kids still get a treat in their basket.

Trail Mix- Another simple one you can make, use reusable bags to package, and fill baskets with! Our kids think it is a treat as long as there are like 3 M and M's in the mix.

Easter Eggs

Eggs- If you aren't vegan, the lowest impact egg you can get is just regular, local eggs! Try to find them as locally as possible to minimize your negative impact. To do even more good, you can dye them naturally (here is a good lesson on how to do it, but you can find many more on Pinterest). Eco art supplies has an egg-dying kit as well.  If no one actually likes eating the eggs, you can cut down on waste more by blowing the egg yolks out and using the same eggs for multiple years.

Wood Eggs- If you want to avoid plastic, but do something reusable, wood eggs might be a great option! You can even learn together about religious and cultural traditions where they paint the eggs with elaborate (and gorgeous) designs. You can find wood eggs that will open, but unless you have something in mind, solid wood may work fine too.

Plastic Eggs- The best bet for plastic eggs is to find them secondhand. Sometimes just asking your friends and neighbors (or trying Buy Nothing or thrift stores) can land you enough eggs to make things work. This is just the kind of plastic that gets thrown away WAY more often than it should, so you can keep something out of landfills by offering to reuse them.

If you can't track enough down that way, check out Eco-Eggs. They are made in the US of bioplastic, and they aren't perfect, but at least they are plant-based so they will break down eventually.

Things for Spring

Seeds- My friend made adorable paper packets for them last year that were totally inspiring and our kids loved them. You could go crazy with decorated packets, but even simple ones can be really sweet. Any mix of things you can grow together will be a huge success.

Bubbles- My trick to bubbles is to steal the little bottles of them at weddings. I leave them in a bag in my art supplies and pull them out as needed. My best other suggestion is to save your empties and just make refill bubbles.

Gardening Tools- Shovels, gloves, and a watering can might make a really sweet gift that encourages your little one to get involved with the growing process. We haven't had great luck finding these tools that are made locally, but you might have good luck finding some of the things (the watering can for sure) in secondhand shops.

Jump Rope- Green Toys has a sweet and simple one.

Things for Creating

Crayons- We love melting our crayon nubbins into fun new shapes for our kids to use. If you don't have enough, you could ask neighbors to save their broken crayons for you. We bought silicon molds (ours are lego and letters, but you could choose anything), melt them at 150 degrees for 15 minutes, and have brand new funky crayons that our kids love.

If this isn't in the cards for you this year, you could also try these crayons from eco-kids or these recycled crayons in the shape of stars.

Little Notebooks- Little books, like these ones from Field Notes or Decomposition Books can be super fun for little kids who are ready to get their thoughts or pictures on paper.

Playdough- You can make your own with things in your house (this Martha Stewart recipe seems to be the best place to start), and homemade playdough smells delicious.

Secondhand Toys or Books- Like I said, this is outside of my comfort zone, because I really think the holiday doesn't require gift giving. But if you do want to go that route, check your local thrift shops! You can find Hot Wheels, puzzles, and all sorts of small toy filler there. This is how we fill our stockings for a tiny amount of money, and we are saving toys from landfills.

If you want something fresh, I recommend Green Toys, Maple Landmark, or Bears for Humanity. But seriously, check secondhand! Nothing new can come close to the same positive impact on the planet.

Everything You Need for Eco-Friendly Easter Baskets - Plastic-Free Easter Baskets, Zero-Waste Easter Baskets, Low-Waste Easter Baskets

What is your favorite eco-friendly Easter basket filler? What's your favorite Easter tradition?

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