If you love chocolate like I do - and to be clear - the major motivation beyond reducing waste, in writing this story is the promise of more quality chocolate.
Depending on where you shop for Easter chocolate, one thing that might surprise you is that the chocolate could be costing less than the packaging. While pretty much anything plastic will most certainly be costing the environment way more than the little bit of chocolate inside, it might be hitting your wallet as well.
Although the gold-coloured foil, ribbons, bells and hard plastic containers on Easter eggs may signal a brand; look pretty; or protect the chocolate resting in them; their impact on the environment when they are quickly discarded and end up in landfill or recycling is not pretty at all. And neither is the amount of resources, energy and labour required to produce all the packaging in the first place.
There is also all those plastic egg baskets, small plastic eggs, fluffy chicks and bunnies - little cutsie toys that serve no purpose beyond decorative.
Retail World says we are set to spend around $1.5 billion on Easter this year - a little higher than normal as this Easter is our first free Easter is two years. Travel is also going to see more than 4 million Australians planning a trip - many to see family and friends - and many will take special treats with them.
So what can you do to reduce your footprint this Easter without reducing the fun and festivity? First up, the more naked your chocolate is, the better. Good quality chocolate, dressed up with coloured sugar of chocolate finishes are amazing. They are easy to find and show them a pile more care than the mass produced chocolate / plastic / foil combo.
You are more likely to find incredible chocolate that has been beautifully finished if you go local. The reason is that the maker can use more intricate finishes because they aren't worrying about how the chocolate will travel and store. Australia has thousands of talented chocolate makers - and you will find them running shops, supplied through food and gift stores.
The fragility of chocolate makes it very had to transport it without a pile of packaging. So check out your local physical stores and see what's around.
I appreciate that for some of us, quantity is going to win over quality and particularly for many parents, the supermarket will be the vendor of choice for Easter chocolate. You can still do a lot to avoid waste: avoid anything in a plastic basket or shell, adorned with stuff - like ribbons, fake fluff (it's plastic and dyed with god knows what) and straw (also mostly plastic).
I know it's hard to not buy covered eggs, so get foil covered eggs that can later go into the recycle bin, rolled up in a ball. If you buy in plastic, make sure the packaging can be recycled and avoid anything that is plastic coated paper, foam or synthetic.
If you do have to opt for packaging, it's worth looking for packaging made from recycled material - that can be reused easily and with a high degree of likelihood. Gift using options like shopping bags that will get reused or food containers.
On the subject of recycled and reusable, there's also a million ways to put your own creativity to use and create your own egg nests. You can for instance use a pretty calico shopping bag as a 'nest' for your eggs, and put them inside a pretty bowl.
Easter Bilbies were introduced by Cadbury as a marketing strategy and to raise awareness about their threatened extinction. They were sadly dumped in 2018 as there weren't enough sold. (The bilby, a threatened marsupial with rabbit-like ears, digs burrows that provide habitat for dozens of species, a new study says. Australia's own “Easter bunny,” a burrowing marsupial with rabbit-like ears, is even more crucial to the ecosystem than we thought.)
Wildlife organisations and other supporters have kept the tradition going - so if you see someone selling them, make sure you support them.
For some people, this is a bit of a stretch, but no real chocolate lover anywhere ever said that Easter chocolate had to be in a certain shape. Once a rabbit got involved, the relevance of eggs went a bit weird anyway. So maybe a chunk of Rocky Road decorated with it's own goodness, is what you are looking for.
Images: Junee Licorice and Chocolate | Unsplash, Jan Antonin Kola | Federation Chocolate | Wildlife Conservation Co | Junee Licorice and Chocolate