When I was growing up my family owned a gift shop. When you are in the gift business, your life revolves around holidays. Good thing we loved holidays! Although Christmas was magical, it was also exhausting and back then there seemed to be a lot of pressure on giving to everyone. People were stressed and harried. That’s why my father’s favorite holiday was Easter. He always said people give at Christmas because they have to, people give at Easter because they want to. Easter was big with an egg tree and decorations. Pastel colors, chicks and bunnies abounded but one set of decorations gives me the fondest memories. Early in our family life Mother and Daddy had volunteered to decorate tables at church. They blew out dozens and dozens of eggs. They washed them well and papier machéd them. Those eggs were so strong because of the glue and paper that they were part of our decorating for years.
Like everything else though we have allowed convenience to take over. Nothing wrong with convenience but having homemade decorations or even just some special things instead of miles of CPJ (Cheap Plastic Junk) will really make things special at any holiday. The celebration of rebirth, renewal and a risen Lord who walks with us every day is too special not make it a little less wasteful. Here’s my list of lightening our impact on creation while celebrating the most special Christian holiday of the year.
- Ditch the plastic grass. There has been more paper grass in the stores and so just make the switch. I can’t think of anything that drives me crazier than that plastic grass that blows across church lawns and is impossible to pick up. Paper Easter grass comes in all kinds of fun colors now. So, make the switch.
- Reduce plastic eggs. One of my favorite things to do is stuff plastic eggs for the annual Easter egg hunt at church. Do I wish that we would recycle them? Yes, how hard would it really be to have the children empty their eggs into their baskets and leave the plastic eggs behind to be redistributed next year to be refilled? Okay, I get it really isn’t that simple, but it could be…even if we could do half the eggs that would be better than nothing. I think my church does close to 1,000 plastic eggs each year. What an impact it would be to make that simple change.
I do have two alternatives for home. Both we sold at my family’s gift shop. The egg was one of the original symbols of Easter because it represented rebirth. In Europe, they celebrate by filling big papier maché eggs with grass and goodies. They have beautiful Easter and Spring scenes on them. The other item that is a great replacement is fillable tin eggs. Closer in size to the plastic eggs, these eggs will bring fond memories each year and save the trip to get more plastic eggs.
- Use egg shells to make gelatin eggs. One of our favorite treats were Jello eggs. Mother would take the top off of eggs. We had lots of scrambled eggs during this time. Then she would wash out the shells and save them. A couple of days before Easter she would make four or five different flavors of jello and pour them into the shells. When we got a bit older our job was to peel the eggs where bright colored eggs made of gelatin would be revealed. You can buy a plastic mold, but there is no joy of the peeling of the eggs. As you think of ways to include the kids in holiday preparations, maybe some of the “retro” ways are the way to go.
- Fill eggs with non-candy items. So filling eggs is one of the joys of Easter, but we all know that we can all do with a little less candy. So here’s a short list of things that can go in eggs instead of candy (Please note we are trying to avoid small plastic items): stickers, socks, bracelets, toy cars, seed bombs, hair decorations, fresh fruit, bible verses, coupons for trips to zoo, museum or movies, chalk, crayons, loose Legos, coins, temporary tattoos, and visit Pinterest for hundreds of more ideas.
- Make Easter blessing bags for the homeless. There always seems to be a big effort to take care of the less fortunate during Thanksgiving and Christmas but nothing during Easter. Stop and think about it. The holiday for the Good News and we are not thinking about caring for the least of these on the whole. Why not make bags full of items that would be helpful for the homeless. The kids can help and that way they really connect the message that Jesus loves everyone. Buy pretty Spring paper bags or let the kids decorate paper bags and then fill them with a mixture of fun items and helpful ones. These types of efforts are where I am okay with plastic items. Think travel size toothbrushes, toothpaste, tissues. Then add some Easter treats. Another option is make baskets for kids in shelters. Before you make blessing bags, here are two very good posts to read and please read them before you move forward with this idea How to Make Care Packages for the Homeless and Making Care Packages for The Homeless!
- Candy will happen but think bulk. Remember the first part of the 3 R’s for creation…Reduce. Yes, individually packaged candy is convenient but here’s the question, is it really necessary? Remember our path to creation care is about small easy steps that add up to big impacts collectively. If you can’t justify the individually wrapped candy, then skip it and buy in bulk. Other food items that you can purchase in bulk for egg stuffing: cheese crackers, raisins, nuts if your children can eat them, pretzels and if hosting a party stuff the plastic eggs with fruit.
Okay, ready to go hard core? If you really want to make your own contribution to recycling the seemingly impossible individually wrapped items, then there is The Zero Waste solution from TerraCycle. There is a cost to do this. The small box costs $85.00 but think about how long it would take to fill a small box (which really isn’t small) with chip, candy, cookie, granola bars wrappers, ect. All that plastic foil looking stuff. This will take some work. The bags need to be washed and cleaned but it might be fun to see how long it would take to fill up. It could become a recycling game for your kids to see who can bring home the most wrappers from school. You’ll have to set parameters for the kids, but what a great lesson to set the mindset in your children to reduce and recycle.
For more ideas on a less wasteful holiday check out post from Thanksgiving.
My prayer is everyone will have a blessed Easter. It is a time to celebrate the gift of Resurrection of our risen Savior of course. Hoping this list will help make some changes that will help celebrate in a more meaningful way.