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Image by Miha Rekar

The Greening of Life

En-oeuf of the plastic covered Easter eggs


Has the climate crisis passed you by, Sainsbury's?

'Tis the season to be choccy, ha ha ha ha haaa, etc. Well sort of anyway. Easter Eggs seem to be adorning every available space in our supermarkets now, and have been since Christmas, as is the usual custom. Yet this year has seen a pleasing reduction of the annoying plastic dome window that prevents the foil covered oversized egg within from hopping out and making a bid for freedom.


Well predictably I’m going to say that the links to planetary health and human health here are clear: chocolate stimulates the release of endorphins, which are happy chemicals in the brain. Good. Too much of it can lead to weight gain, dental problems, and type II diabetes. Bad. And as for the planet, well allow me a moment to jump onto my compostable soap-box and whinge loudly about palm oil in chocolate, the working conditions for many in countries where cocoa is grown, and of course, if you’ve ever read my work or spent a moment in my consultation room, I may have mentioned…drumroll please…the UK’s packaging millstone. Yes we’re making progress in many areas, but there seems to be a weird sustainability vortex when it comes to seasonal treats – such as mince pies for example (in their enraging plastic trays and unrecyclable wrapper, urgh, eyeroll, cos they smell and taste so delicious). Sure enough, the classic trio of cardboard, foil, and plastic has long been the standard format for Easter presents as well.


So what can we do to help? Well friends, you’ll be pleased to know I dedicated a morning to sifting through chocolate eggs in the supermarket purely in the name of Science, ahem. I'd suggest trying to choose eggs that have recycling instructions on the side – ones that don't declare make my suspicion radar crazy. And in the main, eggs which have extra bars or sweets lurking coquettishly inside their cavity will likely contain plastic. Big X from me. And I don’t mean a kiss. Remember that Heroes wrappers can’t be recycled or go in compost, whereas Quality Street are foil (recycle please) and a weird cellophane-mimic that can break down with your food scraps.


Yes yes, sigh, other miniature sweets are available but I’m not promoting them here until they change their wrappers. So there! Instead I’ll give a big shout out to White Oreo, Twirl, Milkybar, Smarties, Aero, and Galaxy. Give yourselves a pat on the back chaps, you’ve done well. We can happily pop your cardboard in our kerbside boxes, and the foil can be squashed into a tennis-ball sized chunk along with other foil scraps I hope you’ve been collecting, and then taken to supermarket recycling points. Bulking up the foil like this helps it pass through the recycling process in a successfoil way (sorry).


Now if, like me, there’s only really room in your heart for two eggs (yes of course I’m talking about Mini Eggs and Crème Eggs!), then you might want to stroll over to the Bishy Weigh where - sit down for this epic news - they have Mini Eggs on tap. Quite literally. They’re in a tub for you to scoop away to your heart’s content and fill up your own container. No eggstra packaging. Guilt-free. Hooray!


Let’s not forget vegan eggs. My senior editor has just queried this with a phrase I’ll simplify to “er what?” when of course I mean vegan chocolate eggs. Oops! Yes friends, I want to refer to it as ‘voccolate’ or even a portmanteau of faux and chocolate, but then again I have younger viewers. Suffice it to say that ‘Moo Free’ eggs are available in major supermarkets, plus you can see the other main contenders here.


And of course if you don’t like chocolate (why are you even here?!) or prefer to avoid it, remember there are lots of non-chocolate options for Easter, should you wish to celebrate with the giving and receiving of gifts. We will be having Easter stockings at @GreenLifeGP HQ, which you could fill with other little treats (though mine will absolutely contain Mini Eggs) and don’t forget all the lovely ideas from my Christmas post, including sponsoring endangered animals, bees, vouchers for fun days out, or you could even buy a tree or a little piece of land on the Moon!


There’s no doubt that good quality chocolate that is produced in a way that rewards farmers appropriately and uses cocoa-growing methods that don’t harm the land, costs more, and so it absolutely isn’t an option for everyone. But if you are able to choose to buy it, you’d be doing something good for the planet. There's a range of Fairtrade chocolate eggs to choose from here. And topping the planet points chart this week is the yummy Tony’s Chocolonely, to which one of my lovely choir friends introduced me during Lockdown (I forget which Lockdown, they all merge into a fuggish dullness now). These little eggs promote a clever message about slavery in the chocolate industry: millions of children working illegally in Ghana and the Ivory Coast. And they have a lovely personalised wrapper service online, where you can add your own logo or picture to really make it special. Bad luck if you’ve already had your birthday this year!


So I wish you a catering sized tide of chocolate-induced endorphins this Easter in the pretty-much-guaranteed UK Bank-holiday sunshine. And have a look on your next supermarket run to see if their shelves are chocca-full of eggs. Congratulate or call out your favourite brand on social media about their packaging, and encourage others in your home, workplace, or friendship group to collect recyclable packaging so that it can be transformed to live another life. Yay! And remember to shop in moderation so you can easily fit your toilet roll, flour and chocolate eggs in one (shopping) basket.

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