Easter eggs and flowers

Growing up, Easter was always one of my favorite holidays. There was that heady mix of the first hints of spring, the excitement of egg hunts, and the delicious chocolate treats. Now that I’m a mother myself, I love seeing my own daughter enjoying Easter as much as I did, even after I’ve put an eco-friendly spin on the way we used to do things.

Read on to find out how to have an incredible eco-friendly Easter celebration by making a few simple switches that will help the environment and your wallet.

1. Instead of Plastic Eggs, Try Real Eggs

Those plastic eggs are inexpensive, colorful, and oh so exciting to see peeking out from the grass during an Easter egg hunt. There are significant downsides, however. These fun little eggs are made of plastic, typically break or come apart within a short time of being purchased, and usually cannot be recycled. Instead of shelling out for store-bought plastic, why not hunt for real eggs, hand-colored or dyed?

Kids will absolutely love being able to create their own colorful Easter eggs, and there are some incredible tutorials online detailing how to make nontoxic egg dye from beets, turmeric, cabbage, and more!

Real eggs trump plastic ones every time. Photo: Shutterstock

2. Instead of Cheap Chocolate, Choose Locally Made

In our consumer culture, it’s never a bad time to show kids what it means to value quality over quantity. Rather than buying handfuls of cheap chocolate eggs or giant mass-produced chocolate bunnies, seek out a small chocolatier at a farmers market or local grocery store and pick one really great chocolate treat instead.

It may seem counterintuitive, but doing this doesn’t make kids feel deprived — it encourages them to place value on the holiday, rather than the gifts or treats that come along with it. (And hey, dealing with a smaller sugar high is never a bad thing, either!)

When it comes to chocolate, think quality over quantity for the sake of children and parents alike. Photo: Shutterstock

3. Instead of Disposable Baskets, Try Making One That Lasts

It’s no wonder those inexpensive Easter baskets are so popular — they’re just a few dollars apiece, bright, colorful, and adorned with adorable designs. But, just like plastic eggs, these cute baskets just aren’t designed to last.

The financial and environmental costs of purchasing a new basket every year and throwing it out when it breaks or when Easter is over (even if it is just a few dollars) really add up! Instead, invest in a well-made (or even better, secondhand!) basket that can be decorated and used for years to come.

It doesn’t have to be anything fancy (no Martha Stewart efforts needed here); in fact, it’s better if you let kids take control of their own creation. Revisiting their bright baskets year after year will help shift the meaning of the holiday from a disposable smash-and-grab to a treasured tradition.

Get a basket that’s built to last. Photo: Shutterstock

4. Instead of Plastic Grass, Fill Baskets with Other Material

Once you’ve created a basket that will last, what do you fill it with? That shimmery plastic grass is classic, but it just ends up in the trash when Easter is over. Choosing something more sustainable can look just as good without the waste footprint! (There’s also no chance of finding little strands of the plastic stuff stuck to absolutely everything for the next three weeks. Just saying.)

You can replace the grass with a number of different things; get creative! Some ideas to start you off: paper from a home paper shredder, a beautiful scarf or piece of fabric, or even natural raffia ribbon would look amazing. Just make sure to choose something that can be recycled —  or better yet, reused — after the excitement is over.

How cute are reusable ribbons and yarn for an Easter basket? Photo: Shutterstock

Many people worry that greening a holiday like this will strip all joy from the occasion and your kids will grow up with the memory of dour, minimalist, or colorless celebrations, but as someone who has been doing this type of thing for years, I can promise you it’ll be anything but. Your kids love the hunt more than the candy and the togetherness more than the stuff.

That’s perhaps the most important lesson from these swaps — it’s totally possible to be mindful of how much (and what) we consume while still creating a joyful, fun, memorable, and egg-citing Easter celebration. (Sorry for the egg pun; I just had to!) Happy Easter!

Feature image by Polina Zimmerman from Pexels. This article was originally published on April 7, 2017. It was updated in February 2021.

By Madeleine Somerville

Madeleine Somerville is the author of All You Need Is Less: An Eco-Friendly Guide to Guilt-Free Green Living and Stress-Free Simplicity. She is a writer, wannabe hippie and lover of soft cheeses. She lives in Edmonton, Canada, with her daughter. You can also find Madeleine at her blog, Sweet Madeleine.