A green Easter basket? How can it be? Don't worry folks, my ideas are green, cheap, and easy.
1. Skip the chintzy plastic basket. Instead, buy sturdy ones that you can stash until next year and reuse. I haven't bought an Easter basket for the better part of a decade. Alternately, you can make or have your kids make woven construction paper ones and lay them in a special place the night before like Christmas stockings. Instructions for the ones below can be found at http://www.storknet.com/cubbies/kidscrafts/basket.htm
2. Skip the weird plastic grass. I've heard of people growing actual grass in their baskets, but that sounds both time consuming and messy, not to mention the relatively high failure rate of houseplants around here. I recommend shredding normal paper, which seems to be what they did in the picture at left as well. We have an endless supply of scratch paper from my husband's work, so we are going to color it with pastel markers and then shred. If you use recycled paper and then recycle or compost the paper grass when you are done, the environmental effect is negligible.
3. Fill with care. Most of us can't afford to fill several baskets with organic free trade candy, and that's okay. I've collected plastic eggs from a few garage sales and sterilized them in the dishwasher. I am going to fill these with jelly beans. We'll have a few pieces of candy, some homemade, iced sugar cookies, and homemade play dough (recipe below) in pretty Easter colors. I always give each kid a coloring book and crayons, and I'll throw in hair pretties and other stuff the kids need anyway.
4. If you already have the plastic stuff, keep it and reuse it. Throwing things away is never the right choice, even if the stuff is embarassingly un-green.
5. Skip the boxes of Easter egg dye. The packaging is crazy, and it's a lot of money for food coloring. You can make your own dye simply by dropping food coloring in vinegar and using it the same way you would boxed dyes. Or, you can go really traditional and use one of the organic dyes below.
Homemade Play Dough
4 cups flour
1 cup salt
4 cups water
4 tablespoons oil
1/2 cup cream of tartar
Mix all ingredients in a sauce pan. Cook and stir over low/medium heat until play dough is completely formed and no longer sticky. Allow to cool slightly before storing in an air tight container or zip lock bag.
Organic Easter Egg Dyes
Boil your eggs in water with a bit of vinegar and one of these ingredients below, then let simmer until color is right--this will take at least 15 minutes.
Purple grape juice (for lavender)
Red cabbage (for blue)
Spinach (for green)
Carrot tops, orange peels or lemon peels (for yellow)
Coffee or black walnut shells (for brown)
Yellow onion skins (for orange)
Beets or cranberries (for pink)
Red onion skins (for red)