Easter is the most sacred time of year for Catholics and the Christian faith. For others, Easter a time to enjoy traditions and gather with family and friends for a holiday feast.
Yet somehow Easter has become synonymous with candy, fake food additives and eggs dyed with artificial (petroleum-based) colors. From Halloween to Christmas, Valentines to Easter we’re inundated with candy. And all the plastic wraps and plastic bags they come in. And, as with any holiday, there’s an explosive uptick in waste—more plastic into our landfills and ocean as well as too food waste also dumped into our landfills.
I want to celebrate the sacredness of Easter with my family, and also share with my daughter the childhood magic and happy memories of the Easter bunny.
I’ve found the antidote to all the excess is to be mindful. First and foremost on the reason for the season.
And mindful throughout Easter activities—from egg decorating, to Easter baskets, menu planning and food prep to post-feast tactics. Here are the ways I’m working towards a more sustainable Easter.
Reduce Plastic Pollution
- The basket: When she was just a baby, M received her first Easter basket from my beloved sister-cousin Michelle. Oh the excitement when her white wicker basket makes its annual appearance with our handmade Easter decorations each year! It’s become a treasured tradition. No plastic Easter basket in our house.
- The plastic eggs: We’ve inherited a bunch from previous years and reuse those. For events with her little friends, I’ve used plant-based compostable eggs. This year I’ve acquired a few wooden eggs that will start to replace the plastic ones.
- The sweets: Rather than filling M’s basket with sugar and artificial coloring, the Easter Bunny will thoughtfully bring a few special chocolates and Jordan almonds, filling the plastic eggs with (non-plastic) alternatives that I know she’ll enjoy. A strategy is to intentionally choose Easter treats with least packaging possible. I’ve found buying from the bulk bins and getting local chocolate is the best way to reduce plastic wrapping.
- Real eggs: If you’re at ColorMyFood you probably already know about the inhumane treatment of egg-laying hens in industrial farms and the toxic impact on the environment. Buying pastured eggs (in recyclable egg cartons that get re-used) supports farmers who treat their animals consciously, and the eggs are more nutritious. We color our eggs with India Tree coloring made from natural vegetable colorants instead of artificial food colors linked to cancer and hyperactivity.
- Decorations: It’s become an Easter tradition to make one decoration with M every Easter. It’s a heart-warming visit down memory lane to see the bunny poster whose ears are her footprints at age 3, a “Faberge” egg made in preK4 art class, the egg “tree” with hollowed-out eggs we painted when she was 5. Now and again I will buy something, reminding myself “no plastic” no matter how cute it is, if I’m confident it is durable and will be used for years to come.
Reduce Food Waste
The best way to reduce food waste is to prevent it from the start
- Make a menu and grocery list based on realistic portions, the Guestimator helps estimate food portions. And stick to the grocery list! It’s temping to pick up all kinds of “specials” on the way through the supermarket.
- Save veggie scraps. While I’m cooking the Easter feast, I put the vegetables scraps (broccoli stalks, ends of asparagus, trimmed ends of green beans etc) in a bag in the freezer. Later when the bag is full, I’ll put the scraps in a pot, cover with water, bay leaves and juniper berries and simmer 1 hour. When cool, I strain and refrigerate in mason jars to use vegetable stock as needed in cooking weekly meals.
- Prep for leftovers. In the weeks preceding Easter I temporarily suspend recycling empty containers (yogurt, salad greens, coconut oil jar etc) and store them instead. These serve to send food home after the Easter meal with family and friends.
- Store remaining leftovers for our use in glass containers. I’m mortified to admit I’ve thrown away too much food in the past simply because it was unidentified in my refrigerator. By the time I uncovered mystery containers, food was inedible. Use clear glass containers ensure I see what’s in them. If it doesn’t get eaten by the third day, I label it—writing on masking tape with a marker—and put it in the freezer.
- Use the freezer. If there are more leftover than can used in the next few days, it goes into mason jars, labeled with masking tape. Or in Ziploc bags. I’m trying to give up using Ziploc bags I haven’t yet found another way to freeze larger servings.
More Ideas Towards a Sustainable Easter Celebration