Everyday Ethical: How to have an ethical Easter [Ep. 009]

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A picture of a cup of hot chocolate being poured with the caption "How to have en ethical Easter" on it

Key Links

My Instagram 

My sustainable Easter egg roundup 

List of other names for palm oil 

Full episode transcript

Hello and welcome to everyday ethical, a podcast about all of the small ways that we can be more sustainable, without the pressure to be perfect. 

I’m your host Bethany Austin and I’m an ethical lifestyle blogger who talks about everything from slow styling to cruelty-free cleaning. 

With Easter just around the corner and shops stocking up on all of the chocolatey goodness, today I’m going to be talking about all of the things you might want to consider when it comes to buying chocolate in a more ethical way. It’s so easy to get carried away at Easter time, and whilst I’m deffo not here to tell you that you should cut down on your sugar consumption (I know I won’t be) I am going to tell you how to buy your chocolate, at Easter and beyond, from more kind sources. 

So, let’s dive in. 

Apparently the average child now gets 8.8 easter eggs every year. Now, I dunno about you guys, but that figure seems SO high. When I was a kid, I swear I got 3 MAX. That’s 3 if I was super lucky: One from my mum, one from my Dad (divorced parent perks, ammirite?) And then maybe one from my Nan too. But 8?! No chance. 

Do I think it’s a bad thing that kids are getting 8 eggs?! Hell no. I’m not here to be the Easter equivalent of the Grinch, or to throw health statistics at you! Although, I am seriously jealous of that number. The thing that actually concerns me is the companies that we’re supporting when we buy so many eggs. 

Let’s be honest, most of us are buying from big brands, that might, for example, rhyme with “Shmadburys” and not actually thinking about what’s in the chocolate, who grew the ingredients or what packaging it’s in. 

Can I be honest?

I hadn’t even thought about the waste involved with Easter until, like, 3 weeks ago. Then I walked into a supermarket and it hit me in the face. It’s just a whole aisle of food wrapped in foil, then plastic, then cardboard! So unnecessary. And that’s kind of what made me realise that I should make this episode in time for everyone’s easter shopping. 

Getting chocolate in an eco-eco-friendly and ethical way can be a bit of a challenge because, ultimately, most of all we just want that ish to taste good. But I promise you it is possible to tick all of the boxes! You just need to know what you’re looking for. So, as I said, we’ll talk through everything there is to consider if you want to be more ethical with your chocs at Easter and beyond. And, that way, you can decide what matters to you and what to look out for whilst shopping. 

Plastic-free Easter eggs

First things first, let’s start with packaging. Like I said, that’s the thing that really smacked me in the face this year. When you think about children getting 8 or 9 eggs, most of which are packed in plastic, the waste really does add up. Is it the root-cause of our plastic pollution problem? Obviously not. But it certainly does add to it. It’s a contributing factor. 

In terms of buying more low-waste chocolates, the first thing to look out for is just avoiding plastic. Paper and cardboard packaging is obviously recyclable, plus tin foil is usually too. So opting for Easter eggs without those stupid plastic windows, or even just bars of chocolate in foil instead of plastic wrappers is definitely a step in the right direction. This year, there have even been a few packaging-conscious Easter eggs released that are incredible! For example, Hotel Chocolat has launched what they call “Quails Eggs” in an egg box made of a sugarcane by-product. That means its completely compostable!

Just so you know, I have created my roundup of the best ethical easter eggs for 2019 over on my blog. The hotel Chocolat quails eggs are in there, with a tonne of others that are plastic-free, vegan, Fairtrade. All of that good stuff! So, definitely check that out after this episode if you want some specific brand ideas. It’s over on www.bethanypaigeaustin.com and will, of course, be linked in the show notes, which I always pop in the description of each episode. 

So, anyway, yes, if you can find them and they’re within your price range, chocolates that come in innovative, biodegradable, compostable, whatever packaging are fab. 

Of course though, your best option is to go the completely packaging-free route! I’m not stupid, I know that this one isn’t accessible for everyone or in fact for most people, myself including a lot of the time, but it’s definitely worth mentioning, I think. If you live near a zero-waste bulk shop, they usually have things like chocolate chips or buttons on sale packaging free. So you can bring your own bag or box and fill it up, knowing that you’re sending absolutely ZERO to landfill. How fab is that? 

Finally, on the packaging front, if nothing else please please please make sure that your Easter egg is in recyclable plastic if it does have plastic. This is not a great option, by any means, but it’s certainly better than nothing and is a fab step in the right direction. Truth is, we can’t recycle ourselves out of the problems that we’re having right now and it’s kind of a minimum requirement if we want to make changes. I’ll leave a link in the show notes to my post about linear vs circular economies which will kind of explain that in more detail. BUT recycling does, a lot of the time at least if your council do it right, stop waste going to landfill. So, when you buy chocolate, check the labels! 

Organic and Fairtrade Easter eggs

Now let’s get into what’s on the inside. And no, I don’t mean caramel centre of a chocolate egg, I’m talking about the core ethical values that make up your Easter treats, people! 

One thing that I certainly think is important to consider when it comes to chocolates is whether they are Fairtrade or not. If you don’t know,  Fairtrade is defined as “an institutional arrangement designed to help producers in developing countries achieve better trading conditions. Members of the fair trade movement advocate the payment of higher prices to exporters, as well as improved social and environmental standards.” 

So it basically ensures that the people that grow our food, our cocoa beans in this case, are treated as they deserved to be with decent pay and safe, fair working conditions. Naturally, this often means that the prices of food items go up but of course, if you can afford it, buying some or all of your food Fairtrade where possible is incredible. So, why not start with your chocolates? There are loads of great sweet treats that are fair-trade, just look out for the Fairtrade certified logo. I’ll put a picture of it in the show notes, but I’m sure you’ve seen in before. Personally, my favourite chocolate brand is Divine, who don’t just pay their cocoa farmers a fair wage, but have them own part of the company! That means that they get a share in profits and have a stronger voice in the industry. 

And Divine has some tasty looking eggs out this Easter, including one with Joe and Steph’s Popcorn which has salted caramel popcorn in it. How incredible is that? Again, that egg is included in my ethical Easter roundup post. 

If you’re looking for some budget options, Aldi also has some fab Fairtrade choices this year, so they’re worth checking out too. Plus, Aldi chocolate? Bloody delicious. Even if their packaging deffo isn’t the best. 

Organic chocolate is also a big consideration to make when it comes to being more ethical. 

As I’ve spoken about before, I used to think that “organic” was just a health concern and a way to boost up the price of food. Serious, I didn’t give an F if my food was organic and, to be honest, because of the price tag, a lot of what I buy now isn’t actually organic either. 

However, I do now that organic food is far better for the planet.

Organic basically means when food is produced without synthetic fertilisers or pesticides and that the crop isn’t genetically modified. For the sake of simplicity though – and because I don’t want to get into the GMO debate – let’s focus on pesticides. 

Whilst they are fab in terms of being able to grow as much crop as possible, without it being eaten by bugs, the use of pesticides can have hugely negative impacts on our environment. They are non-discriminatory, which means that they harm both the bugs that eat plants, and the bugs that don’t including bees, for example. And they play a huge part in our food chain.

So, organic chocolate means that the cocoa beans and the sugarcane used in the product don’t contribute to these damaging practices. 

The good news is that, often (but not always so definitely check), Fairtrade chocolate and Organic chocolate go hand in hand! So you can usually tick off those two ethical concerns in one. For example, Divine who I spoke about earlier are organic, alongside being Fairtrade. 

Vegan Easter eggs

Okay, now let’s talk veganism! 

As I touched upon in my whole episode about being ethical and eating meat which you should definitely check out, there’s no denying that choice vegan and plant-based options is waaaay more sustainable. By going vegan, one person can save approximately 219,000 gallons of water a year. Studies have also show that the dietary greenhouse gas emissions in meat-eaters are approximately twice as high as those in vegans And, finally, there is the cold hard truth that 1 in 9 people are undernourished. Growing plant-based food is generally a much more effective use of land and resources than rearing meat. If we want to feed the world, a switch to a more vegan diet is one of the most effective ways to do so. 

Now, I’m not vegan, but the majority of the food that I eat is plant-based. So, I’m not going to tell you that you should go vegan if you don’t want to. However, if you can buy more food that tastes good from non-animal sources, why wouldn’t you?

And never had there been a better time for getting vegan chocolate. I mean, Veggo bars exist. I could just stop there. 

But I won’t. Since we are focusing on Easter, it’s important to note that the majority of supermarkets now stock vegan chocolate eggs. They might be in the “free from” section, but they’re probably there somewhere! One brand that I’ve heard fab things about is the So Free range from Plamil and they’re stocked in Holland and Barret, so not too hard to get your hands on. 

Or obviously, go simple, get yourself milk-free dark chocolate which you can buy literally everywhere! I mean, not in, like, B&Q probably, but in most supermarkets anyway. 

Even if you’re not cutting out animal products entirely, taking small steps towards eating less dairy is a fab thing to do! Again, my roundup of ethical Easter eggs includes some great vegan options. 

Palm oil-free chocolate

The final thing I want to talk about is palm oil! Yes, chocolate does contain palm oil sometimes. If you’ve not heard the recent outrage, palm oil production is a huge contributor to deforestation and the loss of animal habitats. So, read the labels and check for it! I’ll link a website in the show notes that lists all of the many names that palm oil can go by so that you can make sure you’re avoiding it if you want to. 

Right, that’s it! I know that this episode was suuuuper short and sweet (pun very much intended), but it’s a really specific topic. It’s not like talking about ethical food in general which I could ramble on about for hours. I just wanted to get you the facts and the things to consider, without any unnecessary BS, so that you can have a bit of a clearer sense of being ethical whilst shopping for Easter within the next few weeks. 

Eco goals for the week

I would LOVE it if you would set yourself an ethical Easter goal after listening to this episode. So, here are some ideas for you. 

  1. You could buy your Easter egg with 100% biodegradable packaging, check out my Ethical Easter roundup for inspo! 
  2. You could get your chocolate Fairtrade this year, or 
  3. From an organic source 
  4. You could simply avoid palm oil, to know that you’re not contributing to deforestation with your Easter goodies 
  5. Or, if you want to go all out, you could opt for tasty vegan Easter eggs instead!

If you do decide to aim for any of those goals, or you’ve created your own, I would love to hear it! Please either slide into my DMs on Instagram or tag me in on an Insta story @bethanypaigeaustin (again it’ll be linked in the show notes) and use the hastag #everydayethical too. I LOVE being inspired by the change you all make – it motivates me to keep creating this content and keep making changes in my own life, too. 

I really hope that you’ve learnt something new in this episode and that it’s made you stop and think about an area of your everyday life in a different light. If it did, please leave me a review on iTunes, it is the single BEST way you can say thank you for all of the free info I share and to support this podcast of mind. Plus, please share this episode with all of your pals online and off and tell them to start timing their showers too!

I’ll speak to you guys next week! 

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