Easter is early in April this year, just twelve hops away, meaning this little cotton tail has to get to work. Like most holidays in the US Easter has turned into an occassion for some major consumerism with shoppers spending big bucks on food, drink, candy, decorations not to mention baskets filled with marshmallow chicks, jellybeans and plastic eggs by the dozen. In 2010 it was reported that $14.02 billion was spent on products associated with Easter. I’m not going to criticize the spending, however, this year I am going to spend smartly. I’m aligning my beliefs in environmental responsibility and good health with the Easter indulgences my family enjoys.
Our Easter tradition involves baskets filled with surprises first thing in the morning, brunch at a favorite restaurant with family, followed by a long walk and then later in the day an egg hunt and snacks and dessert.
My focus for this post is the basket. Adored by children everywhere, this is where I can feel good about how I spend my money and what Peter Cottontail is offering my kiddos.
Please see below for items that are eco-friendly replacements for the some 16 billion jelly beans consumed annually each Easter. It is estimated that if all these jelly beans were laid end to end they would circle the earth three times. That's alotta bean.
How to build an eco-Easter-basket:
The container or basket:
· Reuse. Dig baskets used in previous years from the basement or attic.
· Opt for a practical container like a sand bucket/pail, a cute and colorful bin that can later be repurposed for organizing in the bathroom, crafts or in the kitchen.
· Use a basket already somewhere in the house and provide scavenger hunt like clues leading to the place with the goodies. If the kids ask, reply, “the eco-bunny like to reduce, reuse and recycle.”
· Reuse grass from previous years.
· Purchase recycled shredded paper- available in many colors.
· Salvage some colorful paper from the recycle bin and shred it yourself.
· Use tissue paper left over from birthday gifts.
· Place a swatch of cloth and it can be reused later for crafts.
· Many people reuse their eggs year to year, but I’ve noticed each year the plastic eggs are brighter, sparklier, are sold in a wider variety of patterns, shapes and styles to fit your child’s personality and interests. This is all well and good, but all that plastic is not so good for the planet, especially since it is only used once a year and sadly, much of it disposed of.
Eco Eggs offers an egg-cellent alternative. Ecoeggs are US made of cornstarch making them biodegradable, compostable and an earth friendly option.
· While my family has been known to gobble down at least a few of the billions of jelly beans eaten at Easter, there are a wide variety of choices, other than the infamous bean, if you get creative. Surf Sweets jellybeans are everything you want from a jelly bean, but without the artificial- high fructose corn syrup saturated ones commonly found in candy. They are fruit juice sweetened, have natural colors, are gluten free and the company gives back by supporting important causes. These beans are available at most Whole Foods Markets.
· Trader Joe’s has some cute Gummy Friends with an Easter theme that are perfect for filling your Ecoeggs.
· Lego-my-egg-o: loose Legos are a great alternative to candy.
· Beads and string or other small craft items.
· Barretts and hair ties.
· Sunflower seeds to plant.
· Books- obviously these won’t fit inside eggs, but a nice addition to the basket anyway…along with other secretly practical gifts: socks (depending on the size of your kiddos tootsies these could fit in the eggs.) With the sand pail theme a towel, bathing suit and sun block, sports equipment, a gift card….
· Be creative! Instead of loading the eggs with small plastic things my children are likely to think are cool for a few minutes, I’m opting for items that I know that are secretly practical, as in, I know they will be a good addition to activities they already enjoy.
This year let the eco-bunny guide your shopping and spending with smart alternatives for everyone. If you have any additional ideas, please share in the comments below!