Put a Little Green into Your Easter Basket This Year
Aside from its obvious religious meaning, Easter is a time to rejoice in the rebirth of our planet. Green Promise offers greener choices to build a basket from the bottom up with organic and Fair Trade items, truly representing all that nature has to offer.
Storebought baskets are petrochemical nightmares: dyed plastic baskets, dyed cellophane grass, dyed plastic eggs, chemically-rich jelly beans, neon-colored marshmallow peeps, pesticide-ridden chocolates. A toxic bundle of joy, wrapped up neatly in cellophane and tied with a synthetic bow. Is that any way to herald the rebirth of Mother Earth? Hardly.
Homemade baskets typically aren't much better. They generally will have all of the above, with the exception of the cellophane and bow. Maybe a painted woven wooden basket made in China will replace the plastic one. All in all, no way to reflect nature's bounty.
A tisket, a tasket, a Fair Trade Easter basket
Basket weaving is a centuries-old craft that we don't need to relegate to factories or sweat shops. Plastic baskets are, well, just plain bad for the environment. Commercially-produced willow (a.k.a. wicker) baskets may seem like a greener choice, but basket willow is commonly treated with pesticides and herbicides containing known carcinogens, putting both the environment and basket weavers at risk.
A simple solution with global impact is merely a mouse click away. Fair Trade baskets can be purchased online from a number of Web sites, including Global Exchange, SERRV and Ten Thousand Villages. These are a few of many sites that connect you with local artisans from countries such as Bangladesh, Kenya, Madagascar, Tibet and Zimbabwe, just to name a few. Fair Trade is a social justice movement helping guarantee small-scale producers a fair wage, healthy working conditions and the means for sustainable production. Purchasing a Fair Trade Certified item be it coffee, chocolate or a hand-woven basket supports impoverished communities that our "global" marketplace once ignored.
Just what the heck is Easter grass anyway?
Mention Easter grass and one is instantly haunted by images of wispy green, pink or purple plumes of cellophane tendrils that seem to double and triple in volume the moment it is released from its bag, with no hopes of containment. Now imagine abominable masses of Easter grass growing unabated in landfills all across the nation, because the colorful petroleum shreds simply are not biodegradable.
You can even find sugar-free edible Easter grass, which claims to be a form of rice paper in lovely pastel colors. While better than plastic grass at least it's biodegradable it is highly unlikely that the edible grass is produced with sustainable methods or natural ingredients.
Better options do exist, the "greenest" choice being real grass. Nova Natural carries a kit for growing wheat grass as a liner for Easter baskets. The site also offers Easter grass fleece made from 100% wool. Finally, Green Field Paper Company makes a tree-free paper from hemp that contains embedded wildflower seeds. Shreds of seed paper can be used to line an Easter basket, then planted in the garden afterwards to grow some beautiful flowers, a choice that would most certainly garner Mother Nature's seal of approval.
Natural egg dyes for organic eggs
Thank the marketing geniuses of corporate America for all those cute little packages of bunnies, stickers and cardboard cut-outs to accompany little pellets, pouches and vials of lab-created egg dyes. What child can resist and what parent can resist a child? Sadly, that's no way to handle fresh organic eggs. Below are several natural dyes from pantry items for coloring eggs. Use stainless steel pots and/or bowls for dying to avoid stains.
- Terra Cotta: Easter eggs will turn a light orange to dark terra cotta using brown onion skins. Use around 3 cups of dried outter skins from onions and boil covered in water for 30 minutes. Add the eggs directly to the pot. Color will be
darker if left in longer.
- Sky Blue: Surprisingly this color comes from red cabbage. Slice the red cabbage and boil for at least 30 minutes. Strain out the cabbage and allow to cool completely before dying.
- Pink: Soak your Easter eggs in cranberry juice or the juice from pickled beets.
- Lavender: Lavender Easter eggs can be made by soaking your eggs in grape juice.
- Ecru to Brown: Strong brewed coffee (dye eggs in cooled coffee)
To dye eggs while boiling, use this method: Place the eggs in a pan and cover with water. Add 1 teaspoon of vinegar and the chosen dye material. Bring the eggs to a boil, reduce the heat and simmer gently for 20 minutes. The color will be deepest if left in the dye overnight in the refrigerator.
- Pink/Blue: Beet or Grape Juice
- Blue: Canned Blueberries
- Moss Green: Carrot Tops
- Pale Red: Cranberries or Raspberries
- Pink with Grey highlights: Fresh Spinach
- Light Yellow: Orange Peels
- Red: Boil Red Onion Skin 1 1/2 hours, then add vinegar and eggs
- Golden Yellow: Tumeric
- Pale lavender flecked with soft rust: Golden Delicious apple peels
If that seems like too much work, you can purchase natural food coloring from Nature's Flavors.
Candy everybody wants
Processed sugars, artificial colors and flavors, pesticide-ridden chocolate and hormone-laden dairy typically make up the candy that nestles between the colored eggs in an Easter basket. Do your body and the environment some good by choosing organic candies and chocolates this year. Below is a list of organic Easter candy and where to buy online.
Organic Jelly Beans: ShopOrganic, VeganEssentials.com,
Fair Trade or Organic Chocolate Eggs: Sweet Earth Organic Chocolates, SERRV, Catholic Relief Services
Organic Chocolate Bunnies: VeganEssentials.com, Lillie Belle Farms
Organic Chocolate Coated Fruit, Nuts, etc.: ShopOrganic, Diamond Organics
Organic Gummy Candy, Organic Fruit Chews and Organic Fruit Leather: Edward & Sons, VeganEssentials.com, ShopOrganic, Diamond Organics
Organic Licorice: VeganEssentials.com
Organic Lollipops: ShopOrganic, VeganEssentials.com
Last, but not least, are the cute little stuffed animals and little toys that often find their way into Easter baskets. Those toys are more than likely produced with shamefully cheap foreign labor or by mega-corporations that care more for profits than the environment. Once again, Fair Trade is the responsible choice. You can find a number of worldly items available at Global Exchange: stuffed animals from Sri Lanka, a wooden toy train from Thailand, cloth dolls from Vietnam or hand-knitted animal friends from Peru, just to name a few.
As with all things in life, there are choices. Hopefully, Green Promise has given you enough choices to create your own Easter basket that not only brings joy to your little ones, but also to the planet. And if collecting all the individual items seems overwhelming, you can always choose from pre-made baskets at sites such as Global Exchange. Rest assured, whether hand selected or already assembled, it will be a better choice. Happy Easter and welcome Springtime!