Sunday, April 17, 2011

Combining Earth Day and Easter: How to have a (mint) green Easter Celebration!

With Easter coming next week, I'd imagine that there are a lot of parents running around looking for last minute basket stuffers. I know I was one of those parents today.

I'd like to challenge and encourage you to think outside of the Easter basket this year when planning your holiday celebration. There are so many ways to make your Easter green, healthy, natural, and practical. You could even consider your efforts to be a way of celebrating Earth Day at the same time that you celebrate Easter.

Just like with every other aspect of my life, I try to remain authentic and true to my beliefs when I celebrate beloved holidays with my family. In this article I will tell you about some of the ways that I have remained "bona fide" at Easter time and some other ideas that I'd like to try one day.

1. Real usuable gifts:
Perhaps instead of purchasing worthless junk gifts for your kids' Easter baskets, invest in something they will actually use, appreciate, enjoy and keep. I fully believe that one treasured gift is much more appreciated than a lot of small trinket items, even by the youngest of children. For my oldest son, I bought two Ramona books that we have been needing for our collection. My daughter will receive a small toy set that she's been asking for that I just happened to find on sale and the toddler is receiving a nice book about dogs and two small electronic dogs because he has recently taken an interest in dogs. These gifts are less likely to end up in the garbage or in the donation pile and are therefore good for the environment.

2. Focus on nature-related and outdoor gifts:
Last year I started a tradition where I will invest in a yard or nature related gift for the whole family each Easter. The first investment was a bird feeder and house that we are still enjoying. This year's gift is a play garden and gardening tools for little hands. We have a small area of our yard gated off with a tiny fence. It will be filled with dirt, small garden tools, a few flowers, and some random things that I've found around the house and yard. We've spent very little on it and it will be enjoyed by at least two of the three kids for years to come. I've also purchased mini spill-proof bubble bottles for the two smaller kids' baskets. These are perfect because they both tend to spill bubbles but they beg for them all of the time. Such gifts encourage outdoor play which is something I'm learning to love more and more these days.

3. Natural treats:
It's not necessarily a bad thing to celebrate the Easter holiday by treating the kiddos with sweets. However, it's neither good for their bodies or the earth to give them dyed treats chocked full of high fructose corn syrup. You already know how I feel about artificial colors. At Valentine's Day, I offered you alternatives to the junk. And I will do the same for you now.

All natural chocolate Easter eggs: For years now we have used an Easter egg-shaped silicone mold for creating a unique and healthy treat for our children. We simply melt semi-sweet chocolate and add a little Earth Balance. Then we brush the chocolate into the eggs and freeze. While the chocolate is freezing, we create a filling. This is where you can be creative. The filling needs a creamy base (such as cream cheese, vegan cream cheese, earth balance, etc). To that creamy base you can add nut butter (almond butter is amazing), agave, honey, maple syrup, or even berries. Strawberries make a gorgeous pink color. After the chocolate is frozen, simply spoon in your creamy mixture and then cover the top of the creamy mixture with more of the melted chocolate chips and Earth Balance. Place them back in the freezer and once they are completely frozen, they will pop out nicely. If you don't have an egg shaped silicone mold, this method also works well for cups too. I would not recommend using a more complicated shaped mold (such as a bunny or a flower) as we have not had good results with those.

Healthy Easter Cookies: I wish I could show you what these will look like but we aren't going to actually make them until next week. But I can tell you that I used this recipe for my oldest child's 7th birthday recently and it turned out well. We didn't use any sugar and instead substituted the sugar in the recipe for 2 teaspoons of stevia and 1/2 cup of agave nectar. The cookies turned out quite nicely. Our plan for next week is to eliminate the colored sugars that we used on top of the cookies the first time we made them and instead use shredded coconut that we will color green with spirulina to make "grass". On top of the grass we will place a couple of all natural jelly beans (which you can find at Trader Joe's year round for very little cost).

Simple organic store-bought treats: Don't let me fool you. I'm not all homemade here. I do like to take advantage of the "greener" options that the stores have to offer. A few of my favorite organic treats that are perfect for Easter are fruit leathers, Yummy Earth lollipops (I found a giant bag of them last week at Marshall's for $3.99), and Cascadian Farms Fruitful O's cereal (which I always get at Big Lots... they come in a light yellow, violet, and orange... perfect pastels for Easter treats. I love to stuff them into plastic eggs.)

4. Reuse Easter supplies:
I have been using the same baskets and plastic eggs since my oldest child, Hunter, was a baby. He's now seven. I've acquired but never purchased a few more since then. Right after Hunter was born, I picked out these special eggs with my mom. The eggs are just regular old plastic eggs but they have sentimental value to me and I hope to one day use them to hide treats in my yard for my grandchildren. Further, I have three Easter baskets, one of which belonged to my husband as a child. And those are the only baskets that my kids have had so far. I see no reason to purchase new baskets every year. And this is an economical and ecological decision for me.

So, now you know some of my ideas for making Easter a little more "minty green" and a whole lot healthier. But I'm sure that there are plenty of other ideas out there. I'd love to hear how you make your Easter celebration into something Earth and body friendly!


The photo of the lollipop is a really neat Yummy Earth advertisement that I found on google.

4 comments:

  1. Great ideas! We spend a lot of time at the beach each summer so my kids often get beach pails instead of Easter baskets. While we do purchase these, they never go to waste between the sand box and the beach. I have used shredded bills instead of Easter grass too. My kids love that cereal - I will have to see if our Big Lots has it; that will save money!

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  2. Last year I made Sophia an Easter basket out of a gourd I grew in the garden! I painted special scenes on it, including our cat, dog and rabbit and things Sophia likes to do: flying a kite. So needless to say, that will always be her Easter basket! I am making her a fabric wallet for her pen pal letters too :)

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  3. We have been using fruit and veggie scraps to dye our eggs for several years which is really fun.
    Some practical baskets we have done in the past:
    Soccer gear, bathing suits and pool toys, bubble machine and bubbles, rain boots, bug hunting gear, seeds and garden tools, sidewalk chalk and art supplies.
    Coins are a fun egg filler for older kids. I also know a few families who do treasure hunt clues in the eggs and they find their baskets at the end. I saw an idea to fill eggs with legos or puzzle pieces which leads right into what to do after the egg hunt.
    I usually hide the eggs for older kids up higher and scatter the toddler friendly ones in the grass. Speaking of grass that plastic stuff people put in baskets is the worst! We use fabric, playsilks, scarves from the dressup closet, etc.

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  4. My boys usually get seed packets, T-shirts and homemade candy. One year I went all out with making egg shaped chalk and crayons and homemade playdough in the eggs....

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