Aldona Bird, Columns/Opinion

Less waste, more nutritious eats for next Easter

ALDONA BIRD is a journalist, previously writing for The Dominion Post. She uses experience gained working on organic farms in Europe to help her explore possibilities of local productivity and sustainable living in Preston County.

I’m back, ready to lodge a complaint.

Against prohibitive amounts of waste.

Against copious amounts of sugar stuffed into our children.

Against … the Easter Bunny.

This holiday, my home was filled with mass produced chocolate, bringing gain of weight recently lost, extra trash for the landfill and worries for my daughter’s teeth and general health.

The first Easter event I took my daughter to involved pre-schoolers picking up candy-filled eggs (artificial dyes, flavorings and preservatives) off the floor. Then the kids were sat down, the candy counted and whoever had the most pieces in each group won a large toy.

My 3-year-old does not fully grasp the concept of competition. She does understand sharing, waiting for her turn and playing together nicely.

She was entertained trying to close the plastic Easter eggs, which popped open, and so picked up only a modest number of eggs, giving her no chance at the plush prize.

While my parenting style involves communication, explanation and reasoning, I have to admit I struggled to explain why the child with the most candy also got a big toy. My daughter looked broken-hearted, gave me a sad hug and talked about it for days.

The silver lining was that she also did not end up with as much candy as she would have had she entered into the competition.

I had hopes that the next Easter egg hunt would involve less competitiveness. I set her among the rest of the kids her age, and again she spent a minute closing an egg that popped open.

It didn’t take her long, but by the time she looked up to find more, all the eggs were collected. But one was enough; she was happy, I was happy, and we went about the rest of our day.

In addition to the individually wrapped pieces of candy from the Easter egg hunts, other conventional candy made its way into our home over the weekend. We skipped other community events for fear of more candy.

While I fully appreciate and participate in treating children during holidays (I made and shared with my daughter lots of treats over the weekend), I do wish we could come up with a way that didn’t involve unhealthy junk food in individual wrappers.

Since I’m attempting to limit my environmental impact, all the wrappers annoyed me almost as much as the actual candy.

Easter eggs filled with stickers and crayons might be just as fun for the kids. Community members could donate a plate of homemade cookies or chocolates for such events, giving parents more control over how much and what types of sugar their children consume.

My daughter’s Easter basket contained two toys (a cardboard puzzle and block-building puzzle, both from a thrift store) and two chocolate bunnies from friends. She spent a long time playing with the toys while sitting in her highchair as the family ate breakfast and spent time together.

My plea to the Easter Bunny for next year is this — please leave treats with family and friends of each precious child, and leave competition out of this holiday. Friends and family are more likely to know dietary restrictions and the holiday treats can be more personal for each child’s needs and wants.

As a community, let’s find a healthier, less wasteful way to make the holidays special for our little ones.

Next year, I’ll also ask the Easter Bunny to start a new tradition of adding a new toothbrush to her Easter basket.