Easter is an important celebration on the calendar, but modern day excess may harm the environment.
Marking the resurrection of Jesus in the New Testament, traditional commemorations centre around church services, bell ringing and the completion of Lent.
Easter celebrations also include an amalgamation of the pagan celebration of Spring, and folklore such as the German-originating Easter Bunny.
Therefore, contemporary festivities focus on food, decorations, and giving – which can make Easter one of the most wasteful events of the year.
Perhaps one of Easter’s most recognisable traditions is eggs.
The ritual deriving from animal eggs now focuses on chocolate eggs, or even plastic substitutes often filled with confectionary or toys.
What’s more, eggs hit supermarkets as early as New Year, replacing tinsel-laden shelves as soon as Christmas is over, meaning waste can stretch from Winter through to Spring.
Similarly to Christmas, Easter is often a time for indulgence, and this culture of excess means the environment is subjected to pressure both in the creation and discard of food and packaging.
Over 80 million boxed Easter eggs are sold in the UK each year, with each child on average receiving 8.8 eggs over the Easter period.
An investigation by Which? found that, on average, packaging makes up 25% of the total weight of an Easter egg.
The Waste & Resources Action Programme (WRAP) estimates this results in 3,000 tonnes of packaging waste annually.
In addition, the food and packaging waste accumulated over the Easter period is not confined to eggs, with Good Friday fish feasts and Easter roasts all contributing to a build-up of environmental damage.
Discarded food waste that is not recycled ends up in landfill where, as it decomposes, it produces methane – a greenhouse gas with 20 times the potency of carbon dioxide.
The festivities also encourage greeting card swapping and decorating – resulting in an unnecessary waste, with decorations especially difficult to recycle.
Reducing Easter Waste
A green Easter is possible however, with simple alterations resulting in celebrations much kinder to the environment.
While Easter eggs are often heavy on packaging, a lot of it is actually recyclable.
While any sweet wrappers within the egg cannot be recycled, the foil that is often wrapped around chocolate eggs can be.
Recycle Now recommends foil should be rinsed or wiped to remove any food residue, and scrunched into a ball – with the bigger the ball, the easier it is to recycle.
The cardboard box can also be folded down and placed in recycling, usually along with any plastic egg packaging.
The plastic that comes with eggs tends to be PET 1 (Polyethylene Terephthalate), which is the same material used for plastic bottles that can also be recycled.
In an age of ever-growing consciousness, retailers are also ensuring Easter becomes less of an environmental burden.
Simply limiting the amount of Easter eggs bought and requested will also lessen the waste created by the celebrations, with steps such as checking use-by dates and reimagining leftovers quick food waste wins.
Homemade and upcycled decorations are the safest options, and wherever that is impossible opting for plastic-free is next best.
And, if greeting cards are a necessity, many online card retailers offer e-card’s, as well as monthly subscriptions to send unlimited well wishes.
While traditions can be hard to adjust, the spirit of both Easter and Spring pay testament to changing, growing, and evolving.
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