7 Low Waste Ways to Celebrate Spring

When I was a kid, my sister and I always received an elaborate Easter basket filled with treats. We looked forward to an egg hunt, hanging out with family, and having a big meal. Sometimes our celebrations happened over many days of the long weekend, and there was always something new to look forward to. Looking back at the individual parts of our family tradition, I see so many ways to make it low waste. Maybe some of these ideas can aid you when planning your family’s activities to celebrate the arrival of Spring.

Let’s start with the coveted Easter basket. Our childhood baskets were never fancy by any means, but they were colourful and filled with treats and toys. And they made us feel special. I think that feeling can easily be captured without buying a bunch of new items, or compromising our environmental values.

Buy Nothing groups or online secondhand marketplaces are ideal locations to pick up puzzles, games, art supplies, you name it! And once your kiddo has had their fun with it, you can post it back online and feed the sharing economy.

Chocolate is an item that both kids and parents are excited to see in their gift baskets. Finding more ethical chocolate is becoming much easier, as I see them popping up in big box stores now as well. I say “more” ethical because y’all, chocolate is complicated. Chocolate production not only fuels deforestation and carbon dioxide emissions, there is rampant slavery and child labour. I will give all of us a little slack here with the reminder that it is functionally impossible to purchase chocolate made without slave labour because it all gets lumped into the same market. Watch for the Fair Trade label, or search for brands at slavefreechocolate.org, and do your best! And go without if it is causing you stress.

No matter what you include in your basket or box, think carefully before you wrap it all up in plastic cellophane or sparkly gift wrap. It’s more than likely that the traditional wrapping and decorating is not recyclable. Get creative by using fabric, boxes or reusable bags. I wrote an entire post about low waste gift giving on Waste Free Edmonton’s blog if you need more ideas!

Once you’ve done the gift giving and receiving, it’s probably time to eat! Traditional Easter meals can be often heavy on the meat. In our family, it was ham with gravy and allll the side dishes. One of the fastest and most environmentally friendly changes you can make to your meals is to eat less meat.

If no meat is a no go, there are a lot of other ways to generate less waste at dinner. Farmers markets are still alive and kicking this time of year, even though where I live there is more snow on the ground than vegetables! You could plan your meal around the food available locally. If you’re struggling to find ways to “decarbonize” your dinner in a way that feels doable for your family, I’ve got 5 more tips here.

Snow on the ground makes it challenging to celebrate the coming of spring. It still feels so far away, even in March or April. I am a Weather Optimist, so I love all the seasons equally, and there is something so special about how the sunlight hits during this time of year. I also know that seasonal affective disorder is alive and well in populations whose vitamin D is lacking thanks to the short days. You could celebrate the changing season and tackle your low mood by getting outside! Grab a sled, your skates, heck grab your boots and just walk out the door. Edmonton is really jumping on board and embracing its “Winter City” flex so there is probably a festival happening close by. And most communities have a sledding hill or skating rink. If you’re looking for a hike in Edmonton, I have lots of trailhead options listed here.

Let’s get real here gardeners. I know you are already planning your garden, and have probably bought a bunch of seeds already. I’m also aware that this is not unrelated to the cut flowers flying off the shelves. We can’t wait for spring to start so we bring any and all signs of spring into our house as much as we can. But let me just yuck your yum for a minute there. Cut flowers are so bad for the environment and for us! They are grown in energy-intensive greenhouses using nasty pesticides and herbicides, refrigerated and then shipped via airplane all over the world. I’ve included some links below, but trust me when I say, they’re not worth it.

Now, flip this on its head and you can do amazing things for our environment while celebrating the arrival of spring in your garden. Choose seeds and plants that are native to your area and grow them alongside food in your yard, balcony, or deck. In Edmonton we are lucky enough to have the Native Plant Society to offer you advice and sometimes they even have plants for sale. There are lots of tricks to planting natives, but they are worth the effort. Same goes with planting food. Even a few herbs in a balcony planter can have a huge impact. If you’re thinking in terms of gifts, a subscription to the ENPS newsletter, gift card to a local greenhouse that carries natives, or a handful of seed packets would be a welcome addition to any Easter basket.

Easter or Equinox. Whatever you name and however you celebrate, there are ways to turn our favourite traditions into lower waste, less energy intensive ones. All it takes is a little imagination, or in this case, letting someone else do the work and taking this list to the store with you! Peppered throughout this blog post were SEVEN low waste ways to celebrate the arrival of Spring. Did you catch them all? Do you have any to add to this list?


  1. Take advantage of the secondhand marketplace to fill your Easter basket
  2. Buy ethical chocolate
  3. No gift wrap, get creative!
  4. Skip the gifts, and go outside
  5. “Decarbonize” your dinner and go local and meat-free
  6. Skip the store bought flowers
  7. Plan your garden with more native species or food on the seed list


Environmental impact of cut flowers:

Environmental impact of chocolate:

It was frustrating that none of the articles on the environmental impact of chocolate mentioned slavery or child labour, so I found some additional articles on that specific subject.

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