No doubt, this holiday period will be a time for reconnecting (virtually) with loved ones, spending time on hobbies, leaving your home to explore the great outdoors, or taking a ‘pause’ on life and doing nothing at all.
It can also be a time of excessive waste and consumption and create a packaging crisis! The negative impacts are easy to miss in the upheaval of Easter, so here are some tips for a more meaningful and ethical, zero waste holiday.
1. Don’t be a part of the problem
The amount of waste accrued over Easter is overwhelming, from food waste to excessive packaging, microplastics and the debacle that is Australia’s recycling system. The good news is you can make a big difference by just making a few small changes. These changes can include:
- Recycling the foil on your Easter eggs - it is as easy as rolling up the foil into fist-sized balls that are large enough to be recycled
- Allocating a bin for soft plastics that can be delivered to a REDcycle collection point – Access Planet Ark’s Recycling Near You to learn how to be a recycling hero
- Trying your hat at homemade Easter eggs – there are many fun moulds to choose from!
- Removing chocolate from the equation altogether and instead, making Hot Cross Buns! This way, you can support the community by using local ingredients and reduce the usual sugar rush mayhem.
2. Reconnect with nature
Disconnecting from the hustle and bustle of your daily 9-5 job and stepping outside for some fresh air is crucial, particularly at a time where many are working remote. The best way to recover and self reflect sometimes is through nature. While we may not be able to travel very far right now, we still have the ability to visit local parks and nature reserves. Studies show that walking in nature reduces elevated anxiety and stress levels, making you feel more centred and self-aware.
The best way to rest and recover over this Easter break is to find ways to include the outdoors in your plans. This could be as simple as enjoying your morning coffee on the balcony, camping out in your backyard, using the outdoor barbecue over the stove, or going for a walk after a big meal – these are all quick and easy ways to lift your spirits.
Similarly, why not take your family to visit the local sporting oval or national park? These places are still available for public access, providing free outdoor recreation for everyone. Getting you moving will also allow you to unwind and breathe a little deeper. Just remember to avoid public parks as they are currently closed and fines may apply.
When accessing these public spaces, come prepared to lower your impact. A great quote to live by, especially when outdoors in nature, is ‘Leave only (non-carbon) footprints.’ For example, bring reusable water bottles and travel mugs and always have two reusable bags ready to go, so that you can take your rubbish with you in one, and your belongings or shopping in the other. It’s 2020, so there are no excuses not to bin your waste properly over Easter. Leave places as you find them so that we can continue to enjoy the natural world.
3. Be a better giver
At a time where we cannot physically see each other, it is the perfect chance to rethink the way we give gifts. Studies show that spending quality time with people (physically or virtually) and helping each other out, is how we demonstrate and receive love. Studies also suggest that receiving gifts and chocolates is considered the least important display of love. Therefore, if we don’t really care about receiving gifts, why do people give chocolates during Easter? People say it is ‘the thought that counts,’ so why don’t we rethink the concept of gifts to see it as a demonstration of love, rather than a material object. When I buy a gift, I always ask myself the following questions:
- Will this gift be enjoyed and used by the intended receiver?
- What hobbies and interests have they talked about and shown an interest in?
- What is this gift made of and where is it from?
- What will happen to this gift at the end of its life?
By asking these questions and researching your gifts, you are ensuring a more thoughtful outcome. It is easy to do. For example, the life cycle of a product is often shown in the packaging or on the product’s company website. Similarly, the company website should show whether it supports Fairtrade and environmental sustainability. If not, then it’s time to move onto another gift idea.
You can also refer to #viralkindness for other ways you can give back to your family, friends and local community.
To sum up, these Easter holidays we are going to:
- Rethink the concept of gift giving·
- Virtually connect and prioritise spending quality time with family and friends
- Relax and re-energise in the great outdoors
- Camp out in your backyard!