Each holiday brings a different celebration, Easter- a celebration of rebirth and revival- brings its challenges as well. There is no avoiding plastic pollution in today’s modern society, especially when a large number of people celebrate the holiday. An estimated 30% of people worldwide are Christians (embodying most or all denominations) and in the United States, roughly 71% (~236,000,000 people) of Americans affiliate with Christianity- a statistic taken from Pew Research Center. With Easter being a Christian holiday, these statistics can help determine the number of people celebrating and therefore contributing to higher pollution rates. Pollution during Easter could be caused by a number of things, from buying plastic eggs to choosing appropriate candy to give out. Ultimately, certain decisions leading up to the faithful day end up damaging the environment; however, there are ways that can create an eco-friendly easter!
Common affiliates with Easter are plastic eggs that can be stuffed with little toys or plastic grass. The issue with plastic eggs being bought in large quantities and never used again is the high probability that single-used eggs end up in a landfill being decomposed hundreds of years later. In the early 200s, “a company called Peoria Plastics a subsidiary of Bleyer Industries, once completely dominated plastic egg manufacturing in the United States, producing as many as 250 million a year” (Leonard, 2010). The scary reality of this situation is that in just 10 years the population of the US grew about 100 million. The demand for these little eggs can only rise, creating more unnecessary pollution for the Earth. These colorful eggs do not need to be served as single-use, for just one egg hunt a year and reused the next year. Save them! The best way to reduce plastic waste during the holiday season is to not buy unnecessary items that may cause more waste. Save the plastic Easter eggs for the following years or try doing some DIY crafts that can help revamp the life of the eggs. Aimee from “The Crazy Craft Lady” shared some fun craft ideas to reuse the plastic eggs. A fun way to include egg hunting but without the plastic hassle is to use painted eggs that can later be used in meals. Every part of the egg is used and can still be composed to help plants grow. Truly a win-win!
The stuffings of the eggs themselves can create a plastic frenzy. The plastic egg- a staple eggs stuffer- can be replaceable with more eco-friendly ideas. A quick and effective way of substituting the grass is shredding unused construction paper. Or, opt for eco grass that can be recycled. They come in different color variations that are suitable for every egg situation. One can also help grow some flowers using seed-infused paper, when used, can be planted and be used to grow various seeds. It is a quick and fun way to spice up the Easter season.
Candy during holiday seasons is always tricky because it can be difficult to find the best brand. The main issue with Easter and candy is the risk of environmental damage and exploitation of ecosystems in agricultural areas. The chocolate industry has not been kind to the environment because of the large amounts of plastic and minerals involved in its process of production, and the damage resulting to the environment. The cheap and fast production of chocolate can lead to “widespread poverty, deforestation, forced labor” (Fair Trade America). Deforestation is the main issue with cocoa production; hectares of land that are used for monoculture. These hectares of land could damage ecosystems that are needed for endangered animals and plants. In order to overcome this issue, organizations have been founded to make sure these ethical issues do not arise. FairTrade America has an affiliation with brands such as Chocolate Stella, Jelina Chocolatier, and other non-chocolate companies like Ben and Jerry’s. Their logo ensures that “you are standing up for the people and places involved in the cocoa industry”(FairTrade America).
Plastic packaging is an issue that cannot be avoided. Chocolate eggs and other candies come with them. Unfortunately, such packaging cannot be substituted, especially in our current tough times. It is important, however, to realize how such little packaging can have a big impact on the environment. In 2018, “The Sun”, a UK news source, claims that during Easter 3,000 tonnes of packaging is thrown out. Michael Gove and Jo Swinson “revealed 148 million hollow eggs are sold per year… content on average 22g of plastic… [amounting] to more than 3,000 tonnes per year” (Davidson, 2018). This number can only be estimated to be higher in the United States because of the larger population compared to the UK.
Celebrating holidays should be in no way limited but rather reinvented to fit the times. There are customs that need revamping. Plastic waste is unavoidable but can be restricted. During the next holiday season, make sure to follow eco-friendly advice and encourage others to do the same because simple actions can make a lasting impact on the environment and the earth that we all share.
“Bittersweet: Chocolate’s Impact on the Environment.” WWF, World Wildlife Fund, http://www.worldwildlife.org/magazine/issues/spring-2017/articles/bittersweet-chocolate-s-impact-on-the-environment.
“Chocolate.” Fairtrade America, 6 Apr. 2021, http://www.fairtradeamerica.org/shop-fairtrade/fairtrade-products/chocolate/.
Kristen. “How to Have an Eco-Friendly Easter.” Earth Friendly Tips, 21 Mar. 2021, earthfriendlytips.com/how-to-have-an-eco-friendly-easter/.
Lynn Davidson, Whitehall Correspondent. “Plastic Waste from Easter Egg Packaging Set to Reach 3,000 Tonnes This Year.” The Sun, The Sun, 31 Mar. 2018, http://www.thesun.co.uk/news/5942583/easter-egg-plastic-waste/.
“Not Just for Easter: Unexpected Uses for Plastic Easter Eggs.” The Crazy Craft Lady, 12 Mar. 2021, thecrazycraftlady.com/not-just-for-easter-unexpected-uses-for-plastic-easter-eggs/.
Person. “The Deplorable Rise of the Plastic Easter Egg.” Salon, Salon.com, 25 Sept. 2011, http://www.salon.com/2010/04/02/plastic_easter_eggs/.
“Population Pyramids of the World from 1950 to 2100.” PopulationPyramid.net, http://www.populationpyramid.net/united-states-of-america/2000/.“Religion in America: U.S. Religious Data, Demographics and Statistics.” Pew Research Center’s Religion & Public Life Project, 9 Sept. 2020, http://www.pewforum.org/religious-landscape-study/.