Jenn Savedge, author of The Green Parent: A Kid-Friendly Guide to Earth-Friendly Living and blogger at www.thegreenparent.com and www.mnn.com, says greening our Easter baskets is not only good for the Earth, it's a great chance to be creative and bond with our kids too.
Here are Savedge's tips for creating a fun and green Easter:
1. Keep it small.
"It is all new stuff to them," Savedge said. "So when they come down the stairs in the morning, they're like, 'Whoo-hoo!' So my first tip is to reign yourself in. If you can, keep it small. That's one of the best things you can do to go a little greener."
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She said she understands the pressure that parents are under, but said it is of little consequence.
"My kids see all that same stuff in the stores -- the giant bunny baskets filled to the brim with chocolate," Savedge said. "I want them to be excited and have a lot of stuff, but I have found when I make it small, they're just as excited; they've never once complained."
2. DIY baskets.
Savedge suggests rifling through the recycling bin to come up with materials for your Easter basket. Milk gallon jugs are great places to start. With some cutting and pasting, you can make an orange juice carton into a cute bunny. (See instructions from Disney FamilyFun magazine, http://familyfun.go.com/easter/easter-crafts/easter-baskets/bunny-basket-665124.)
Savedge said she also scavenges the containers already in use around the house.
"I have several pretty baskets with napkins or whatnot, and I just empty them for a week or so. Then you don't have to keep track of where the Easter baskets are stored from year to year."
3. Grow your own grass.
Instead of using plastic grass, grow your own grass from seed that is found at most nurseries and hardware stores. Just sprinkle the seeds into a couple of inches of potting soil in a shallow dish. Keep it in the sun and water daily for two or three weeks. Put the whole thing into the basket your kids made, or use a terra cotta pot that they have painted.
If you don't have a green thumb, use your shredder to carve up newspaper, magazines or tissue paper. Then compost it after the holiday.
4. Use natural foods to dye the eggs.
Savedge said she feels more comfortable letting her family eat the eggs when she skips chemical dyes and colors Easter eggs with red cabbage leaves (blue); yellow onions (brown), beets (pink), spinach (light green) and turmeric (bright yellow). Find help coloring eggs the natural way at www.instructables.com.
"The kids love it even better (than using the kits) because it's just so cool; they think it's the craziest thing to dye an egg pink with a beet," Savedge said.
You also can use up crayon nubs by drawing designs on the eggs when they are still warm from being boiled.
5. Fill the baskets with something more than junk.
Sure, kids love candy, and who doesn't? To ease your mind a bit, you can find locally produced chocolates, and there are organic lollipops or all-natural jelly beans. But you also can make sure the basket is largely filled with things that they will use more than once, and will encourage them to go outside.
Here are a few ideas:
* Books or activity books
* Homemade bubbles made with dishwashing soap and a little bit of glycerin
* Art supplies or stickers
* A jump rope, kite or ball
* A starter kit for gardening with kid-sized gloves, a trowel and seeds
* Something they need anyway, such as new sunglasses or flip-flops for the warmer months