By Larraine Roulston:
April is the traditional time when children enjoy finding their Easter baskets filled with an array of chocolates and jelly beans. Yet, collectively,we are becoming more aware of our children’s high consumption of sugar through a variety of commercial foods. Also, at this holiday time, we need to become more environmentally concerned with regard to gift-giving.We, as parents and grandparents, must strive to eliminate disposable plastics and to lessen the amount of sweets that growing youngsters consume.
The Easter basket itself need not be purchased; rather, it can be homemade by weaving strips of stiff paper into the size you desire. Also, a wooden salad bowl or bread serving basket can be repurposed for the special occasion. No need, either, to seek the familiar commercial plastic green grass. If you have not saved this filler from previous years, a soft base can be made by shredding colored paper or lining the basket with a cloth napkin.
We are learning that food dyes may affect behavior; therefore, it is important to limit the number of marshmallows, candy eggs and jelly beans. As tasty as they are, most are produced with high fructose corn syrup and artificial coloring. As many people consume over 100 pounds of sugar a year, you can also make homemade cookie-cutter bunnies and hens to decorate with shredded coconut. Also, home baking can cut back on the sugar content.
Avoid over-packaging. Although boxboard with its film window and the plastic form are acceptable in your blue recycling bin, it’s likely you will be spending more on the packaging than on the hollow chocolate. Recycling is important, but it’s wiser still to refuse the oil-based plastic, single-use backing altogether. As most small Easter chocolate hens, bunnies and eggs are covered in foil, there is an opportunity to teach your child that this wrapping can be balled together and recycled as aluminum foil. Investigate Fair Trade Chocolate. Choose the healthier dark chocolate over light. Fun yet nutritional surprises might include a bag of mixed nuts or a fruit pomegranate.
The following are a few other ways to make your Easter basket a joy for children:
- Add a seed packet of their favorite vegetable and wildflower to attract the pollinators. Perhaps a small potted plant set beside the basket will be a delight for the family to place into their garden.
- A new box of crayons accompanied by an Easter-related coloring book is enjoyable. You can look for an illustrated book or jigsaw puzzle relating to spring. A packet of children’s playing cards is also something that can be easily tucked inside a basket. Include wool or felt for a craft.
- Place a kite or skipping rope beside the basket to encourage outdoor activities.
- A new pair of cozy socks are always welcome.
- Create a little card as an invitation to experience the joy of hot chocolate with whipped cream or a morning brunch of pancakes with real maple syrup at a local up-scale restaurant.
Easter is a sweet spring event that celebrates the circle of life. Easter bunnies can lead by example with surprises that reflect health and sustainability.
Larraine writes children’s illustrated adventure books on composting and pollinating. To view, visit: www.castlecompost.com