BY AMY ZIFF
Before my kids went to school, I found it easy to control how we celebrated (or not) each holiday. I had more control over the kinds of products we purchased, from toys to personal care – making each one a meaningful reflection of our values. Then, we were able to live in a more minimalist, sugar-free way. It seems abstemious now, but back then, it was just how we rolled. But once my kids hit school, everything changed.
Just as school expanded their minds and introduced new stories and concepts, suddenly there was pressure for different toys, snacks, and video time. With holidays there was always a push for more stuff AND treats! Plenty of treats. I am painted as the family Grinch for always saying no!
Out of a need for more pragmatic parenting, and to raise children who get to experience and (hopefully) choose a more conscientious lifestyle one day, I have had to relax my ways. I am still ardently anti-plastic and anti-pollution, but I’ve also found ways to join in traditions more mindfully.
Each and every Spring we have a green Easter celebration. Instead of junky candies, plastic grass, eggs and trinkets, I’ve discovered ways to honor the fun while staying in line with my own greener practices. Here are some of the ways that have worked for me and our household to modify this holiday. I’d love to hear how you make the holiday work for you and yours as we can all learn from each other. As my fellow Moms and I constantly say, it really does take a village and there’s no price on borrowing good ideas!
- The Annual Orange Hunt. We don’t do traditional egg hunts. I don’t buy egg kits with plastic paraphernalia and artificial dyes. (Though they do make some fabulous creations.) I opt instead for buying fresh-farmed eggs in naturally beautiful hues and I’m lucky that my local farmer has blue eggs to make this possible. (You can learn more about chickens with colored eggs here.) We marvel at these natural beauties and fight over who gets to eat the big blue ones! There have been flavor taste-tests too. Then in lieu of eggs, the parents go outside and we plant 50 clementines, mandarins, and oranges around the yard. I believe the tradition started with a reference for putting an orange on a seder plate but we’ve been doing it for a decade and the kids don’t want to stop! Winner gets to eat an orange first and each one is bought back for a small sum.
- Use, reuse, and pass on. If you already have some plastic eggs and Easter grass, don’t send them to landfill! Reuse them and you can box them up to use endlessly year after year. (You can even try finding them in a secondhand store.) I purchased small felt Easter bags which I reuse if I’m going to go in the basket direction. There are loads of inexpensive options available online and they can be passed on when you’re done.
- Set ground rules. Candy consumption for Easter may even rival the amount consumed at Halloween, according to some counts. Regardless, you can still set ground rules. We do this and have found that it’s worth it. I usually buy a big treat for us all to share, or something outrageous they’d never expect from me like an affordable version of one of these. Last year it was small, bright blue hard-shelled eggs that looked just like robin’s eggs – they were gorgeous, although we all agreed they tasted terrible in the end. So terrible that I threw them out in December, ha! The lesson here is that an unexpected, out-of-the-ordinary gift goes a long way. And then everyone gets a little bundle of treats that are organic, without high-fructose corn syrup or artificial colors and flavors. Basically, I focus on buying “better” candies that I feel OK about.
- Skip the plastic. I try not to buy anything plastic because of the massive plastic pollution problem. Annually, the world produces 300 million tons of plastic, 50% of which comes from single-use items. Ack, right!? I know you’re going to think twice before reaching for a disposable plastic item ever again. So, if you want to skip all the plastic trinkets for Easter, I’d suggest gifts like old-fashioned board games, cardboard puzzles, or even a small cactus which can grow just about anywhere!
- Hostess Gifts: Swap out the conventionally-grown and pesticide-sprayed fresh-cut flowers for a plant that can be moved outdoors once it’s finished blooming. Some of my favorites are fragrant herbs and flowers such as pansies, which will bloom outside all the way into the Fall, or bulbs (like hyacinth or muscari) that will flower and can be saved for planting later in the year.
- Want more ideas? Check out this article for a more “eco” Easter.
Amy Ziff is the Founder and Executive Director of the 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization, Nontoxic Certified. MADE SAFE® is a program of Nontoxic Certified.
A healthy living educator with a genetic predisposition to toxicity, Amy is also mom to three young kids who share the same trait. Determined to make the world less toxic, Amy reached millions of parents and caregivers with her “buy better” advocacy campaigns. She blogs about the chemical world we live in on Amy Ziff’s NoTox Life, and prior to founding MADE SAFE, taught classes on living a nontoxic life and co-founded the Veritey Shop, a site comprised of safe, nontoxic products. Amy is changing the world for the healthier one product at a time, one person at a time, one home at a time.
Amy has a Masters in Journalism and Communications and has been a successful internet entrepreneur. She was on the founding team of Site59 where she pioneered the first luxury business line for travel on the web. When Site59 was acquired by Travelocity, she ran a national sales team and then founded an award-winning media program, blog, and travel seal that garnered millions of dollars of “earned media” annually, and also founded the company’s award-winning cause marketing program. Amy went on to cofound and become creative director of Jetsetter, the first online flash-sale for high-end travel.