From egg hunts, to the massive amounts of candy, to Peter Cottontail hopping around; there’s a lot for many of us to celebrate in the spring season. The sunny, warm days are here, and things are greening up everywhere you look. If we want this yearly celebration of rebirth to continue, then we need to take a hard look at how we’re marking the days, and how we’re cleaning up afterward.
First, we need to talk about a major part of any spring celebration: the plastic eggs. Newsflash, there’s an extremely high chance that they can’t be tossed into your local recycling bins. Plastics 1 and 2 are widely accepted in most recycling programs. Items marked 3-7 are not, especially after markets dried up and many foreign countries stopped accepting shipments of the material from the U.S. That’s where the plastic eggs fall, in the plastics 3-7 range. If you’re lucky enough to have a place nearby to take them, that’s great. In many cases, the eggs and their packaging don’t have any markings at all to indicate what type of plastic was used. Sadly, the best advice is to reuse them or toss them in the garbage.
MORE INFO: How to read plastic recycling symbols
So if you’ve decided you aren’t going to send the plastic eggs to the landfill, how can you reuse them?
Save them for next year!
There’s a good chance you’ll be hiding or decorating with them for at least a few years. By packing them away for each upcoming holiday, you won’t have to keep buying more and you’ll keep the eggs out of the landfill. This way, you’ll also be able to keep filling them with candy for your little ones for years to come.
DIY or kids’ crafts
Make a spring wreath using multicolored eggs. Trying to create handmade ornaments or small decorations with them. The eggs make great mini planters for things like an air plant or a succulent, kids can create mini maracas, and they can even be used for pineapple string lights to give your backyard a tropical feel. Add them into a bucket as part of a sensory bin for toddlers. Your imagination and your children’s ideas really are the limit here.
Another great option: skip the plastic eggs altogether and go for some alternatives. Eggs made out of wood are one way to go. They’re sold at many craft stores and big-box retailers as well as in many online marketplaces. If the wood is not treated or painted, you can compost it. Some facilities might take wood and be able to recycle it or repurpose it, so check around where you live. Within the last few years, other eco-friendly options have emerged for the holiday with eggs made from recycled plastic, papier-mache, upcycled books, felt, and wool. A quick internet search can yield a number of promising alternatives. Even using real eggs is a better route because you can eat the eggs after you’re done with them and the shells are compostable. Just remember where you hid them.
You’ve probably gathered around with friends and family and dyed eggs at some point, too, right? Another great way to keep any celebration environmentally friendly is to make your own dye. Using scraps and things many of us already have in our kitchen can add another fun twist. Onion peels, beet juice, blueberries, apples, paprika, carrot peels, and red cabbage can all yield deep shades of blues, greens, yellows, reds, and purples. You’re keeping these scraps out of the landfill and finding a new way to reduce, reuse, and recycle them.
A plastic basket, filled with plastic fake grass, and all wrapped up in clear plastic: The whole to-do that makes up a traditional holiday basket really isn’t great for the environment. So what can you do to be a little more environmentally friendly? Reuse it! If you’ve got one already, just keep using it. One of the best ways to keep the plastic out of the landfill is to just keep dusting it off, along with the plastic fake grass, each holiday.
If that’s not in the cards, there are also some great alternatives. You can use a real basket woven from wood and natural fibers. As for what to put in it, you can actually grow real, edible grass right inside the basket in just a few days. Other options include using real grass from nature along with sticks and hay. Things like green yarn or twine are also a great way to get that green, grassy feel to your basket. Try using green paper, ribbon, fabric, or napkins to keep things in line with the season. Again, the possibilities are endless and it keeps items out of the landfill.
Other ways to ensure you’re celebrating in an eco-friendly way include rethinking leftovers if you’re having a large meal and tossing paper greeting cards into your recycling bin. Consider the domino effect your actions have when choosing to take the extra seconds to decide how to dispose of, repurpose, or recycle an item. Less trash at the curb means fewer trucks are needed to haul it. That equates to less fuel being burned and less greenhouse gasses in the air. It means fewer items left to rot in the landfill and it means protecting the planet just a little bit more.
The color green symbolizes health, wellness, balance, and growth. It is the color of life and harmony. It is the main attraction of the spring season and one of the stars for seasonal holidays. The work to keep the trees and flowers blooming each year begins with you. It’s not hard to keep items out of the garbage and it’s quite easy to recycle other things to drive sustainability. Think about all the ways in which you and your family celebrate. Chances are, there are some opportunities to go a little greener.
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