It’s Easter time and we need to ask ourselves what would Jesus do? Remember him? He’s the guy Christians are supposed to be honoring during Easter. Instead, the Easter Bunny — that fluffy saccharin glutton, spreading cavities, diabetes and childhood obesity with every step — has hijacked a once sacred Christian celebration. This Easter consider incorporating green strategies into your holiday celebrations. It is possible to please the kids, Jesus Christ and the environment. Like most things worth doing, it just takes a bit of education, effort and a dash of innovation.
Well, the Easter Bunny has certainly convinced us that we can’t have Easter without all the appropriate candy accoutrements – tin foil wrapped eggs, marshmallow filled candies, jellybeans and chocolate rabbits. What would Easter be without the candies? Probably a whole lot better. Much of the sweet-tasting goodies are hiding bitter secrets.
Many children working on cocoa farms will never eat a chocolate bar in their lifetime.
Take chocolate for example. Much of the world’s chocolate is grown in developing nations by poor farmers. 70% of the world’s cocoa production is grown in West Africa, with the Ivory Coast producing approximately 40% of the world’s estimated 6.5 billion pound crop of cocoa beans. More than half of the country’s 15 million people make a living directly on cocoa according to the International Labor Rights Fund (ILRF). Much of the world’s cocoa production includes child labor and starvation level wages for farmers. Many children working on cocoa farms will never eat a chocolate bar in their lifetime.
It's not just chocolate that has a bitter side, many North American Easter candies and sweets contain genetically modified ingredients. The USA and Canada, unlike Europe, do not label foods that contain genetically engineered ingredients. Purchase organic, fair trade goodies for the kids this Easter. That way you can guarantee nobody suffered to produce your chocolate and the kiddies aren’t consuming Frankenfoods in their Easter baskets.
We have to ask ourselves why so many of our North American holidays are constructed around wasting food or resources (think of the pumpkins at Halloween and the trees at Christmas…). Consider that in Canada there are more than 26 million egg-laying hens. The USA has more than 10 times that amount, with an estimated 285 million egg-producing hens. In North America, most of these hens live in factory farms, the animal equivalent of a concentration camp.
With about 8x11 inches allotted per egg-laying hen, the creatures are placed in wire battery cages at 18 weeks old, stacked tier upon tier in warehouses, they can’t turn around nor spread their wings, their beaks are burnt off without anesthetic or painkillers, fed heavily medicated pellets, they never see sunlight or walk on the ground. Battery hens are kept alive until they are roughly 18 months old and once their usefulness has ended, they are slaughtered.
It's hard to reconcile little Billy & Sally’s good times spent coloring Easter eggs around the kitchen table when somewhere in a battery hen farm a chicken is experiencing hell on earth. If the kids (or parents) are insistent on coloring Easter eggs, purchase the eggs from a free-range source. Also color the eggs with natural food quality dyes or make your own (beet for red, spinach for green and carrot for orange, blueberry for purple, etc.) and then eat the eggs for dinner that evening. The kids can still have some Easter fun without contributing to animal cruelty and unnecessary food wastage.
Each Easter, animal rights’ groups and humane societies ask parents to refrain from purchasing live bunnies, ducklings and chicks as gifts.
No Animal Gifts
Animals simply don’t make good gifts. Purchasing a baby bunny or chick for your child is nothing short of animal cruelty. A baby animal has most likely been mass-produced prior to Easter to help thoughtless parents buy their kids a baby animal. Each Easter, animal rights’ groups and humane societies ask parents to refrain from purchasing live bunnies, ducklings and chicks as gifts. Yet rabbits remain the third most relinquished animal to pet shelters after dogs and cats.
The Humane Society of the United States explains that when the cuteness wears off the animal becomes too much work, or the recipient cannot accept the responsibility, so gift animals often end up at the animal shelter. In the USA, if another home isn’t found for the animal, it will be euthanized. Teaching children to consume animals with no thought given to the safety, well-being and sentience of the animal, is not a green option. Instead, take children for a spring visit to an animal sanctuary where they can learn about animals by watching caring individuals treat animals with respect and dignity.
Lamb Free Easter
This Easter consider going meat free. Although lamb is not as hard on the planet as beef, the lamb industry also has some of the cruelty as the rest of the conventional meat industry. Compassion in World Farming UK estimates more than 20 million lambs are reared in the UK alone. Lamb, a popular Easter meal, means the animals are slaughtered between the ages of ten weeks to four months. Baby lambs experience a number of cruel procedures including castration and tail docking without the use of anesthetic. Lamb is consumed at Easter, Christmas and other religious holidays throughout the year. Choosing a non-meat/poultry option this Easter will teach your family about the importance of minimizing their carbon footprint and reducing animal cruelty.
The question of “What would Jesus Christ do?” is something that many congregations around the world are asking themselves. Pastors, ministers, priests and nuns, are all rising to the growing eco-challenge and encouraging their congregations to lead more sustainable lives. In fact, numerous churches are setting outstanding eco-examples. In 2007, the Vatican declared its intention to become the first carbon neutral independent state in the world. St. Gabriel’s Catholic Church in Ontario, Canada, has become one of the greenest churches in North America with living walls, green roofs, and preferential parking for hybrids and other energy efficient vehicles.
In the UK, the Eco-congregation movement is mobilizing across denominational faiths, encouraging all congregations to live more lightly by installing energy efficient heaters, solar panels and compact fluorescent light bulbs. The Eco-congregation movement also promotes all churches to set a green example by improving churches’ energy efficiency, recycling programs and encouraging them to partner with community groups and schools to work on environmental projects.
Compassion in World Farming UK: http://www.ciwf.org.uk/
Faith and the Common Good: http://www.faith-commongood.net/
Humane Society USA: http://www.hsus.org/
When you purchase non-organic flowers your loved one will be inhaling toxic fertilizers, insecticides, fungicides, nematocides and plant growth regulators. Purchase organic flowers: http://www.organicconsumers.org/
Canadian Cocoa Camino Company offers fair-trade certified organic chocolate and pays farmers a fair price for their cocoa beans: http://www.lasiembra.coop/en