Cute spring craft

Michele Minnick, owner of The Garden Gallery in Elkhorn, created this cute Easter basket out of a recycled mushroom container and other items she had at home.

Sustainability, going green, eco-friendly — all of these words come to the forefront of our minds more and more as we look to the future of our planet.

As Easter quickly approaches, it got me thinking about how we tend to throw away temporary items more often during the holidays seasons. Whether it's wrapping paper, plastic from small decorations we only use once, candy wrappers or cheap, small items we lose interest in after a month's use. 

So how can we make small changes in our holiday traditions to incorporate sustainability and lesson our carbon footprint?

One simple thing families can do is start an alternate Easter activity together such as a neighborhood cleanup, said Elizabeth Chalen, volunteer and programs coordinator for Keep Omaha Beautiful. The annual Keep Omaha Beautiful Earth community cleanup will take place on Saturday from 1 to 3 p.m. at Adams park if you're not quite ready to start your own.

Instead of using the plastic grass in your child's Easter basket, use recycled shredded paper, old silk scarves or yarn. For candy, consider getting chocolate that’s locally made. 

Families can also dye Easter eggs with natural dyes from beets, cabbage, yams or turmeric. 

“I always liked to boil beets in water. That was my favorite because of the color,” said Michele Minnick, owner of The Garden Gallery in Elkhorn. “To create a more vibrant egg decoration, take flower petals and rub the petal on the egg.” 

As for gifts, Chalen suggested spending money on one quality item versus a lot of little disposable items.

“Use something you already have on hand,” Chalen said. “It’s so hard when you walk into the store and you see all these cute things that you think you need, but you really don’t. Somehow we’re always buying more, so consider reusing plastic eggs and other items year to year.”

Another great idea is to think outside the box and make your own environmentally-friendly Easter gifts and decorations.

Minnick created a cute Easter basket out of a recycled mushroom container. She used items from home to decorate it, including pipe cleaners for handles. She filled it with a simple potting mix, mini flowers (pansies, violas, wheatgrass and daisies are good spring options) and decorated it with recycled shredded paper and eggs she had on-hand from past Easter holidays.

For Easter brunch or dinner, let kids create nature-inspired placemats. Lightly hammer flower petals against craft or recycled paper to create a faux watercolor masterpiece. 

Finally, making a fairy, zoo or dinosaur spring garden is a great activity for kids. All you need is a pot, potting soil, small plants and flowers, rocks and a mixture of small items or toys found at home or in any thrift store. Lay everything out and let your child create their own fantasy garden. Minnick suggested using old Popsicle sticks as fence posts and bottle caps as stepping stones for your miniature garden.

So what will you consider doing to create a more green Easter? I know I’m definitely going to attempt a few of these!

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Kristine Rohwer is a marketing professional who resides in Omaha, Nebraska with her husband and three children. Founder of Elkhorn Family, you can follow her page on Facebook.

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