Chocolate, hot cross buns, daffodils and longer, warmer days – Easter is such a joy. The giving and receiving of chocolate eggs is so popular in the UK, with over 90 million eggs purchased each year.
As tasty as they are, the unsavoury side of easter eggs is the amount of packaging waste produced as a direct result of them, which is more than 3,000 tonnes a year.
To be fair to the likes of Nestle, Cadburys and other large easter egg producers, there is less plastic waste than there used to be. I remember as a child, each egg sitting in plastic casing inside a cardboard box. Nowadays, most of the packaging is cardboard, but producers are still guilty of over-packaging eggs, to make them look bigger and more generous on the shelves.
A report by recycling experts DS Smith found that up to 40 per cent of the weight of the best-selling Easter eggs is packaging.
While packaging is one thing to consider, another is the sourcing of the chocolate. According to the Fairtrade foundation, the average cocoa farmer earns just $1 per day, which is not enough to meet their basic needs.
Opting for organic and Fairtrade chocolate is the best way to ensure it’s from sustainable, ethical sources, where the cocoa farmers are paid fairly and treated well, and no harmful chemicals are used on the land. This often goes hand in hand with more environmentally friendly packaged eggs, too.
Here are my top picks for plastic free, ethical eggs:
Divine’s social mission is to help end exploitation in the cocoa trade. All their chocolate is Fairtrade, palm oil free, and they are the only chocolate company that is co-owned by the farmers themselves. Enjoy their range of eggs, which includes vegan options, a dark raspberry egg (mmm!), and dark orange.
All of Cocoa Loco’s chocolate is Soil Association organic and Fairtrade. Many farmers struggle to get a fair price for their cocoa crop, but making sure their farmers in the Dominican Republic do is really important to Cocoa Loco. Their whole range is plastic free and handmade in their chocolate barn in Sussex. They have a full Easter range of eggs, chocolate chicks and pigs, rabbit lollies and more.
Montezuma was born in 2000 after husband-and-wife Helen and Simon left their lawyer jobs and went travelling in South America. They camped on a cocoa farm and returned to the UK excited to make ethically-sourced chocolate using cocoa from plantations that meet their strict ‘Trading Fairly Policy’. Children will love their chocolate chicks filled with buttons, peanut butter eggs and more. And for vegans, look out for the ‘Like No Udder’ milk chocolate alternative eggs.
Think Kinder Surprise but educational, plastic free and organic. PlayIn Choc brings the excitement of play together with chocolate. Each box comes with a vegan chocolate, 3D puzzle and fun facts card to play with, learn about and collect. For Easter, they have a special rabbit collection to enjoy.
The Naughty Shrew
For something that will last longer than a few days, consider a hand decorated hen, egg or bunny box to fill with small easter eggs. Use it year after year and enjoy as a decoration. Small independent online store, The Naughty Shrew, has a beautiful collection to choose from.
Or, try making your own chocolate gifts
If you feel like getting crafty, consider buying some Fairtrade or organic chocolate to melt down and make into chocolate bark or slabs. Try marbling white chocolate and milk chocolate; making giant dark chocolate buttons with a white chocolate centre; or adding ingredients like freeze-dried raspberries or chopped nuts and sea salt. They make perfect Easter gifts or just treat yourself!