By Aislinn Redbond, posted 03/04/21
Can we expect the Easter Bunny to survive the sea of waste created during the Easter weekend?
The Easter Bunny is a tradition enacted in homes across the UK every year.
The celebration of Easter, whether religious or otherwise, solidifies the arrival of Spring, signalling longer and warmer days ahead, and bringing a welcome four day Bank Holiday. However, this celebration also carries huge amounts of food waste, improper recycling and another weekend of indulging the habits of overconsumption that are driving climate destruction.
Food waste is a large contributor to greenhouse emissions (representing approximately 8% of global emissions), and this year, it is predicted that there will be 8,490 tonnes of food thrown away in the UK over the Easter weekend alone. Food waste is not just an environmentally-unfriendly habit, but also an economically wasteful one. According to a recent study, only 41% of people will use their leftovers in another meal, yet the majority of foods will be safe to eat for a number of days after Easter, if stored properly. This also highlights the importance of planning meals in advance so that only the necessary amount of food is purchased, contributing to the reduction in food going to landfill, where it then decomposes and releases the dangerous gas, methane.
Easter eggs are also another contributor the the problem of overconsumption and pollution during the holidays. Every year, over 3,000 tonnes of chocolate egg packaging is produced in the UK (Waste and Resources Action Programme, 2021), and most of this is not disposed of correctly. For example, the tinfoil that covers most eggs cannot be recycled unless it is a large enough quantity that it can be processed by the recycling machine. To recycle this material therefore, it is best to combine all the tinfoil leftover from Easter and mould it into a ball at least the size of a tennis ball, otherwise it will not be recycled. The plastic casing used for Easter eggs can sometimes be difficult to recycle, with the rule of thumb being that if you can scrunch it in your hand, you can’t recycle it. Cardboard is widely recycled at least,and with more and more brands feeling the pressure to improve the sustainability of their packaging, it is becoming easier to find environmentally-friendly egg options.
Though the tradition of Easter dinners and egg-giving may be fundamental for many, there are ways to reduce your individual impact on the environment over the holiday. With over 80 million eggs sold in the UK every Easter, determine who in your life truly enjoys a chocolate gift and how much they really need one. The average child will receive 8.8 eggs over Easter, and while nobody is suggesting that the Easter Bunny stops coming altogether, perhaps it is worth adopting a ‘secret santa’ model for Easter, where each family/household member is responsible for buying only one egg, instead of getting an egg for everyone. This would help to reduce both food waste and recycling waste! When it comes to Easter meals, determine how much food is necessary and aim to prepare only that much. If there are any leftovers, get creative and use them in another meal the next day! Traditions do not have to be stopped, but if we want to contribute to the fight against climate change, we have to look at some of these patterns of overconsumption and slowly dismantle them. Otherwise, how do we expect the Easter Bunny to hop through a wasteland of pollution?
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