It is only a week or so away from Easter Sunday which means the shops are stocking up on all things chocolate. It is quite clear that what was (and still is for a lot of people) a deeply religious period and arguably the most important event in the Christian faith, is increasingly becoming an excuse for mass consumerism. Don’t get me wrong I am always up for a bit of free chocolate, but Easter can be a time where a lot of unnecessary waste is produced. I have noticed in recent years some brands of chocolate have been reducing their plastic packaging significantly and this can only be applauded. However, the issue of sustainability runs a lot deeper than just plastic waste.
Palm Oil – What’s it all about?
I won’t go massively into this here because I could write a whole separate blog post on the topic. Essentially, palm oil is a type of vegetable oil that can be found in almost everything, from toiletries to food products. It also goes by various aliases which is a bit sneaky if you ask me. Most importantly, it is an ingredient in a lot of main-stream chocolate brands. You might be thinking, so what? It’s just a vegetable oil, it’s not great for my heart but it’s hardly effecting the planet? WRONG! Palm oil use has been identified as being one of the biggest causes of deforestation. This has huge consequences when you think about the habitats of some lovely animals like orangutans.
Now before I go any further, if you have been incredibly efficient and purchased all the Easter eggs you usually buy and you read the packet and it contains palm oil then it’s okay! What’s done is done so please, please, please don’t beat yourself up about it because it won’t help anyone.
However, if you haven’t been shopping yet, then here are some suggestions for which companies to
Which companies to avoid according to the Ethical Consumer:
- Hotel Chocolat
Best palm oil free companies:
- Tony’s Chocolonley (also plastic free!)
- Divine (also plastic free!)
- Seed and Bean (fully compostable packaging!)
The more main stream chocolate brands such as Mars, Ferrero and Mondelez (who own Cadbury’s) are making steps to try to responsibly source the palm oil that they use in their chocolate which is really positive. If you want more information head over to Ethical Consumer for a whole list of companies and explanations on how they score them.
Isn’t a low waste Easter expensive?
Short answer is yes, but it’s not as simple as that. They are not always the cheapest brands if you want completely palm oil free chocolate but they are becoming more widely accessible and can be found in supermarkets now. One thing I would say is that if you do decide you want to give palm oil free chocolate this year, a way to reduce costs is to consider who you are giving to. Think “Does my next-door neighbour’s third cousin twice removed really need a gift from me this Easter?” – chances are probably not. If you really can’t cut your list down or your budget is super duper small then it is okay if you need to buy chocolate containing palm oil, just make sure it is responsibly sourced. Again Ethical Consumer is a great resource for this.
Don’t forget Chocolate Eggs Aren’t the Only Option
Okay, so lets clear this up. You are under no obligation to buy anyone anything. Gift giving is lovely if that’s your thing but don’t just buy someone something because you think you should. Now we’ve cleared that up… what about presents?
If you are really desperate to go down the chocolate route, why not head down to your local refill store or even old-fashioned sweet shop and buy chocolate eggs or buttons in bulk. Something really cool you can do, which looks adorable and is just that little bit different, is fill up empty jars you might have lying around. I constantly go on about how you should never throw away jars and this is a perfect excuse to crack open your collection. Depending how arty you are you could paint the jars or even create some wacky lid toppers like these ones. Alternatively, a piece of string wrapped around the jar also looks really beautiful if you don’t have the materials lying around and aren’t feeling that creative. One thing to do here is make sure you ask for the jars back so you can reuse them next year or ask the recipient to pass them on to someone new the following year. You could start a new trend! Check out a couple of cool examples here and here.
Another option if you aren’t into chocolate is flowers. Again, these can be tricky. If you pick up flowers in the supermarket, they are more often than not wrapped in horrible cellophane that is next to useless after the short trip home. Why not pick some daffodils from your garden or head to your local florist? You’ll find these flowers are a lot less likely to have a large carbon footprint before they’ve even reached you. Plus you can ask for them to be wrapped in paper which can be composted.
Do remember though, your loved ones are more likely to value a Skype call than they are chocolate egg, especially this year.
What about the little ones?
Easter can be a bit tricky when it comes to entertaining children. At least I imagine it is… I don’t have them so I can’t be sure. I have seen some really awesome arts and crafts online using things you would ordinarily have in your house, like toilet paper bunnies and chicks. Again, if you have a strong Christian faith, I realise this isn’t what Easter is primarily about but it is a way of representing new life which I think is pretty awesome.
Another thing we always did when I was a child was paint hard boiled eggs. If you aren’t vegan this can be a really awesome activity to do with children and you can even experiment with dying eggs using natural food products such as red cabbage, turmeric or spinach. You might be surprised by the results and is a great way to show your little ones about how awesome nature is.
Low Waste Easter Egg Hunt
Finally, the good old Easter egg hunt! This, for many children is the highlight of Easter, where the Easter bunny hides eggs around the garden for them to find. Sadly there are some issues here. What about that one egg you inevitably lose? Well chances are an animal has probably eaten it which isn’t great. However, there are alternative types of eggs that you can hide for children. Either you can hide the boiled eggs I mentioned above, or you could pick up some wooden ones which you can decorate. These are great because they can be used over and over again and will last significantly longer than some of the cheap plastic ones I have seen. Another great thing about this is you can make sure that the chocolate (or whatever you receive as your prize) for finding the eggs can be plastic free as it won’t need the outer packaging to keep it clean in the car exhaust (this is my Grandma’s favourite hiding place!)
I hope you have enjoyed this seasonal bonus post about having a low waste Easter! Let me know in the comments if you have any other great tips and tricks for having a low waste Easter. If you have enjoyed this post make sure to subscribe to my email list so you never miss a post and follow me on my social media. See you again soon.