Green your Easter

Green Easter

Kids soon will be clamoring for baskets overflowing with jelly beans, chocolate bunnies and Robin Eggs candies – not to mention that plastic green grass that immediately goes in the garbage (if it’s not all over the carpet first). And, while fun, it all seems a little less than environmentally friendly. Fortunately there are some other options.
Jenn Savedge, author of “The Green Parent: A Kid-Friendly Guide to Earth-Friendly Living,” 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 her 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.”
She said she understands the pressure that parents are under, but says 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 pink bunny. (See instructions at familyfun.go.com/easter.)
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. You can even 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 (earthy brown), beets (pink), spinach (light green) and turmeric (bright yellow). Find help coloring your 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 the crayon nubs by drawing designs on the eggs when they are still warm from being boiled.
And, skip the plastic eggs entirely. Instead, decorate old Altoids tins and fill with candy.
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 you can find online. 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
Weave your own basket
Recycle old T-shirts and make these colorful baskets. Before you begin, some terms you need to know: the warp is the material you string on the hoop, the weft is the material you weave with.
MATERIALS:
– Sleeves from 2 or 3 adult large T-shirts
– Tacky glue
– Scissors
– 12-inch round embroidery hoop. Make large baskets on a hula hoop by weaving a base (ours are 8 inches in diameter) then pulling the weft tight to create sides.
DIRECTIONS:
1. Turn the shirts or just shirt sleeves inside out and lay them flat on your work surface. Run a line of glue along the seam of each sleeve. If you’re using adult T-shirts, glue the body seams the same way. This is so that the seam stitching doesn’t come undone when you cut them.
2. When the glue is dry, cut 1/2-inch-wide loops from the sleeves. Discard the hems. You’ll need nine sleeve loops for the warp. For the weft, you’ll need about 50 loops. If you’re using shirt-body loops, you’ll need far fewer (depending on the size).
3. Stretch one sleeve warp loop over the embroidery hoop. Add and secure a second loop, perpendicular to the first.
4. Repeat, filling in the spaces, until all nine loops are in place.
5. Push together two warp loops at the top of hoop. This creates an odd number of warp spokes in your wheel, which allows the over/under pattern of the weft to alternate with each new row.
6. Then begin weaving. When your weaving is about 4 inches across, begin treating each warp spoke as two individual strips instead of a single unit, weaving over or under each strand instead of going over or under the doubled spoke. This increases the number of warp spokes, improving the structure of the project. When you get to the two warp spokes that you pushed together at the top of the loom, separate them.
Treat one of the spokes as two individual strips, but continue to treat the other as a single spoke. This maintains the odd number of warp spokes.
7. To form the sides of your basket, begin stretching the weft material tightly and pulling it snugly against the weaving as you work. The sides should start to bend up.
8. When the basket is the size you want, snip open your weft loop. Tie the ends around a warp spoke.
9. Cut the warp spokes off the hoop one at a time. Tie the ends in pairs, then trim them to make a fringe or tuck them back into the basket.

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