Easter is a time of celebration, exuberant children and family bonding. While traditions vary around the world, attending church is common practice, as are egg hunts, Easter baskets and family dinners. All that hustle and prep can equate to copious plastic waste. Avoid contributing additional plastic to the landfill with a plan focused on alternatives instead.

naturally dyed eggs in woven basket

Choose durable, long-lasting baskets

Whether the Easter baskets in your home are used for a reward at the end of a scavenger hunt or are simply set out as an Easter morning surprise, it’s easy to source an alternative to the plastic options. Instead, use a wood, paper or rattan basket. With some creativity, you can skip the basket altogether. Whatever you decide to use, make sure it’s a multipurpose solution that can be used in the months and years that follow. Consider a canvas tote, decorative cardboard box, hat storage box, a wire fruit basket or small metal toolbox. You could also use a plastic-free waste basket, fabric produce bag or a stainless steel lunch container. 

Related: How to make Easter eggs using natural dyes

Use shredded paper in the basket

When filling your baskets, avoid the shredded plastic bedding, often known as Easter grass. If you already have it in your home, be sure to package it up and reuse it year after year rather than tossing it. Get the same effect with colorful paper using your paper shredder. You can also skip the shredder altogether; use crumpled tissue paper or add a colorful cloth napkin as a liner instead.

naturally dyed eggs with white floral drawings

Naturally dye real eggs

At some point, plastic eggs began to replace hard-boiled eggs in the traditional egg hunt. Bring back the real thing and enjoy a family project of decorating them using natural dyes. If your kids have gotten used to reaping a prize with each egg, create a system where they can trade in their real eggs for prizes instead of those found inside plastic eggs. 

If plastic eggs are already in your home, use them for years to come and donate them when you no longer need them. Similarly, if you’re asked to source plastic eggs for an event, buy them secondhand or borrow some for the occasion. When buying new, look for wood eggs or eggs that are at least made from recycled plastic. Remember to flex your conscientious-purchasing muscles while figuring out what to put into the eggs, too. Coins, paper-wrapped candies, wood blocks, lip balm or clues to larger prizes all fit the bill.

Fill the basket with eco-friendly toys, games and candy

While giving and receiving is fun, filling a basket full of plastic in the process isn’t. Scrutinize product packaging while you shop. Avoid any options wrapped in plastic film or packed in plastic foam. Instead, hunt down puzzles and games in cardboard boxes, books made from paper and candy in eco-friendly containers.

Even better, go DIY and get creative. Dig out the cookie cutters and fun cardstock. Make homemade goodies and package them in paper bags, reusable beeswax wrap or fabric. Create fun cookie shapes, bunny-themed rice crispy treats or sugar cookies decorated like eggs. You can also make some easy modeling dough in a variety of colors or bubble mix made from a few pantry items.

Outside of the kitchen, basket contents can include DIY wood toys like cars or a rubber band shooter. Use a printer to create a stapled-together book of coloring sheets or workbook activities. Bundle them with some colored pencils for hours of entertainment.

For the seamstress, make dolls, a sock puppet or stuffed animal. Another option is to use fabric scraps to put together bean bags stuffed with rice or beans for a mini bean bag toss game.

Paper crafts are also fun. You can either pre-form some origami to watch the wonder in their eyes, or gather together the supplies for the kids to make their own. Even better, go old-school with a “choose your answer” fortune-teller game from folded paper. Write out instructions and rewards and then fold it up to create the game. 

Even if you buy all the treats inside your Easter baskets, pay attention to packaging and production materials to keep the plastic at bay. Focus on goods made from wood and other natural materials. Hunt down toys and candy encased in basic cardboard boxes or paper bags. Use the opportunity to share your love of nature with sports equipment, plant seeds, bulbs, a science journal, a leaf-pressed bookmark, gardening tools and gloves for little hands, and marbles or cards for indoor or outdoor play.

people clinking glasses of orange juice over a breakfast spread

Make a plastic-free meal plan

Make sure your holiday meal doesn’t come with added waste. While shopping, watch for plastic-wrapped produce and other plastic packaging. Buy in bulk and bring your own containers when you can. Also remember your reusable shopping and produce bags. Order meat from a local butcher or farm. Alternatively, buy from the meat counter at the department store where foods are typically wrapped in paper rather than plastic. Even better, create a plant-based meal plan instead.

For meal service, get out the real dishes instead of relying on single-use options. Avoid plastic foam plates and cups. If you do choose to go with disposable, choose compostable options.

Images via JE Shoots, Silvia Rita, Michel Balog and Lloyd Dirks