5 Steps to an Eco Easter!

Easter has always confused the hell out of me. One second i’m eating pancakes, the next my school principal is rubbing soot on my forehead, then I am told not to eat anything and then BAM I am sniffing out anything that has cocoa in it and gorging on said item! What a strange holiday it is. It is Lucy’s first Easter and it has definitely made me consider how I will bring her up to think of Easter. I have decided that it will be the same as Christmas – a time where family comes together. What it will not be about is the merciless destruction of all over-packaged, sugar-based food stuffs within a 10 kilometer vicinity. She’s already perky enough without the sugar thank you very much!!!

SUGAR!!! Nom nom.. no!

SUGAR!!! Nom nom.. no!

So I started thinking about all the ways we could reduce our Easter impact while staying healthy at the same time…

1. Sustainable Good Friday Fish

If you are a fish eater make sure you choose an ecologically sustainable breed of fish for your Good Friday Feast. The Australian Marine Conservancy has a brilliant website that tells you exactly which breeds are best – see the list here. If you are not from Australia though the Marine Stewardship Council provides global information on sustainable seafood – see their list here.

2. Make Your Own Chocolate

Itty bitty eggs all wrapped in unrecyclable tin foil… every eco-minded individuals worst nightmare. By making your own chocolate you can completely avoid the packaging as well as making them a hell of a lot healthier. In this recipe I made raw Fruit and Nut Chocolate in a slab but you could easily pour it into a chocolate mold for a more traditional feel!

You could also try these AHMAZING Raw Easter Eggs from one of my favorite foodie ladies Adele (aka Vegie Head)…

Image and recipe courtesy from www.vegiehead.com

Image and recipe courtesy from http://www.vegiehead.com

3. Always Buy Fair Trade

It can be really hard to walk past beautiful brightly-coloured eggs that are so perfectly designed to catch your kids eyes. But it is important to remember that a lot of those eggs are produced in terrible conditions by children… just like yours. See the list of companies here that are doing the right thing and using certified Fair Trade cocoa. But if you are out and about and have forgotten the list, then make sure you look out for the FTA (Fair Trade Australia) logo…

fair-trade

4. Opt out of the traditional Easter Egg Hunt

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I loved Easter Egg hunts as a child. In fact, I still love ’em. I went to my brothers house last Easter and I had to be reminded that I was helping my nephew find eggs… not competing with him. But it does occur to me that it can be a glorified form of littering really? Running around and scattering bits of candy wrapped in non-biodegradable packaging around the garden. I am sure there is a percentage that get forgotten or that some poor animal finds first. BUT this doesn’t mean you need to forgo the hunt altogether. Why not try these ideas:

  • There are loads of funky reusable ‘eggs’ around which you can open and put in healthy treats. I haven’t found an Australian manufacturer yet but these ‘Eco Eggs’ are made from a non-toxic plant-based plastic that are fully compostable! (Although I’m not sure why you would chuck ’em… they would last for many many Easters). There are also gorgeous wooden eggs (see here) which you could paint and decorate with the kids.
  • I have never been to an op-shop and not seen a whole stack of wicker baskets for $2 each. No need for new! If that’s not the case wherever you are though, check out this gorgeous upcycled jumper basket…

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  • You could make your own eggs! There are plenty of gorgeous options from these little felt eggs (from the very creative One Inch World) or you could even make old greeting card boxes like these (from yours truly!) to hide treats in.
  • Instead of hiding eggs you could instead hide some gorgeous hand-painted rocks (hear me out!) and at the end of the hunt treat them like coupons. The children can come up to a ‘treat’ bar and exchange rock creatures for their treat of choice!

painted-rocks-resizedWEB

5. Avoid Palm Oil

Both Woolworths and Coles home brands of hot cross buns contain palm oil.

Consumers (a yucky name for you and me) are definitely wising up these days. It is so nice to that the tribe of people that give a shit is growing and that people are starting to speak up about unacceptable corporate behavior! Better yet… they are boycotting it. Coles and Woolworths have both used Palm Oil in their homebrand Hot Cross Buns this year. They have (rightfully so) copped some flak for this nasty inclusion (if you want to know more about Palm Oil I have written a blog post all about why it is so nasty – see it here). Don’t condone their use by buying these products, why not make your own instead. Total eco babe Alison (from Relauncher) posted this recipe for Gluten Free Hot Cross Buns. I am trying it out tomorrow!

Image and recipe from http://www.relauncher.com.au

Or if you are getting into the raw swing of things you can try my recipe for Raw Cross Buns here

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Happy Easter!

What are you doing to make sure your Easter stays eco? Would love to hear from you in the comments.

Guest Post: Creating a Cycling Culture in the Workplace

When it comes to inspiring eco-change the group that I hear the most gripes about would have to be work colleagues. And sometimes parents. (Not you mum and dad – you guys are awesome!). Today’s culture is so politically correct that we have to be ‘sensitive’ at all times in the workplace – even if that means turning a blind-eye to laziness, ignorance and narrow-mindedness.

Luckily Olive On Blondes newest contributor has found the magic key of changing behavior in the office – offering an incentive! Meet Alyce Sala Tenna– an environmental scientist who is as zany as she is smart! To learn more about this fuss free lady you can meet her properly here. But for now, here are her thoughts on how you can change a wasteful office culture. 

Why should you implement a cycle scheme in your office?  

Throughout Australia thousands of cyclists enjoy the benefits of riding to work. These pedal pushers reap the positive results of saving money, higher fitness levels whilst also contributing to a sustainable mode of travel. However, there are still many, many more Australians yet to be converted. In 2006, transport consumed 25% of Australia’s total energy requirements!

This is where a cycle to work scheme can be initiated in the workforce to encourage the transition from fossil-fuel traveller to carbohydrate-consumer traveller. A cycle to work scheme does not have to be complicated, nor involve enormous amounts of paper pushing for the good office Samaritan who volunteers to organise and maintain the scheme. Incentive ideas can be as simple as providing workshops for staff about bike maintenance, subsidy assistance, financial bonuses, or, simply providing bicycles to employees for short distance travel. For example, Coles offers a $200 gift card each month to people who ride more than three days per week.

Em's Bike - Penelope Cruise!

How do you go about it?

So how would one embark on the implementation of a cycle friendly work scheme? Like any project, a proposal must be put forward in order to for approval and advance to the next stage. And what looks attractive to senior management in a proposal? Financial savings, of course!

Below are four main financial incentives an employer may find attractive:

  1. Reduced car park overheads and more economic use of land (for example, a cost of a single space in an A-Grade CBD office building ranges from $8, 000 – $10, 000 per annum, whereas 10 bikes can fit into this space)
  2. Reduced car fleet, taxi and petrol card costs
  3. Healthier and happier staff from the outcome of cycling are more productive at work and less likely to take sick days
  4. Increased connectivity in the workplace through strong cycle-friendly culture

Need a template? Step right up…

I created a template document of a cycle to work scheme for my previous employer. Although it never got off the ground before I left to take on my graduate job as a professional greenie, it is a document that I feel could help to make positive changes to both the environment, and an individual’s health. Senior management of corporations must recognise the importance of committing to environmental responsibility if they wish to continue harnessing the surrounding environment’s precious resources to recruit their wealth.

If you want to see an initiative like this in your office (or even your home) but don’t have time to collect the information – then you have come to the right place. If you would like a copy of this well-researched document to give to your manager or present at your next staff meeting then email oliveonblonde@gmail.com and we will get a copy to you within 24hours.

Good luck and happy cycling! 

Want more info?

For further information, ideas and approaches please refer to The Cycle-Friendly Workplace: You Step by Step Guide (2007), a concise and informative report prepared by the Australian Department of Environment and Water Resources and the Australian Department of Health and Ageing.