How to Have a More Ethical Easter in 2017

At Easter we celebrate what Christians believe to be the most important event in history; when Jesus died and rose again to defeat sin and death once and for all. Here in Australia we celebrate in a variety of ways, but usually it involves going to church, spending time with our families and eating plenty of chocolate Easter eggs. One of many ways you can put your faith into action is by making ethical choices about the kind of chocolate you buy, so we have put together some tips and ideas to help you with your purchasing decisions this Easter.

Make sure the chocolate you purchase is Fairtrade

Seventy percent of the world’s cocoa is supplied by West African countries, with child labour and slavery widespread in cocoa production from this region. Because the demand for cheap cocoa is so high, cocoa farmers barely make a living, and rely on child labour and slavery to stay in business. The Food Empowerment Project recommends avoiding companies that trade with cocoa farms in these countries, or companies that use unethically produced cocoa in their products.

While it’s probably difficult to keep track of the specific brands to avoid, one easy way to ensure you’re not contributing to the problem is to buy chocolate products that are marked with the Fairtrade logo. Major brands that offer Fairtrade chocolate include Cadbury, Alter Ego, San Churro, and Green and Black’s. It’s important to note that products that are labelled with the Rainforest Alliance or UTZ logos aren’t necessarily free of child labour input.

The fact that your chocolate eggs are Fairtrade certified means you’ll have contributed positively to farmers receiving better prices for their product, better working conditions, sustainability, and the eradication of child labour.

Give dairy-free or dark chocolate a try

It’s been said that going dairy free could be better for your health overall, and trying dairy-free products means you can avoid contributing to the animal-welfare concerns that are associated with the dairy industry. The dairy industry is also both environmentally taxing, as it is land and water intensive, producing a significant amount of waste product such as methane and excrement. In this case, avoiding dairy this Easter will also mean you are contributing to the preservation of the environment in the long-term. Animals Australia has a list of great dairy-free chocolate products to help you celebrate ethically this year, and there are also many ethical shopping guides online to help you find ethically sourced chocolate.

However, if to you chocolate just isn’t chocolate without that super creamy texture, then why not give dark chocolate a go as an alternative? In moderation, it’s better for your health than milk chocolate, as it can also contain a healthy amount of antioxidants and good fats, as well as obviously containing less dairy. As mentioned before, be sure to check that any chocolate you buy is Fairtrade certified.

Avoid products made with palm oil

Palm oil is hugely prevalent in our food system, as it’s the most widely used vegetable oil in the world, contained in over half of all packaged foods. Palm oil isn’t just high in saturated fats; it’s also likely to be unsustainably sourced, contributing to the logging of precious rainforests that are the habitats of endangered orangutans, Sumatran tigers and elephants. These species live in the Bornean rainforests in Indonesia and Malaysia, where most of the world’s palm oil is sourced from.

Always be sure to avoid chocolate made with palm oil, as well as any other products also made with palm oil. Palm oil can be a tricky one to spot, as it’s often referred to as the hidden ingredient, being referenced under 200 different names. Other names that palm oil can be hiding behind include carotene, linoleic acid and even ‘planta cleanse’. If you have to purchase palm oil products, make sure you’re only buying those that have been certified as environmentally sustainable.

Choose a bilby instead of a bunny

Instead of the traditional Easter bunnies, why not give Easter bilbies this year instead? The bilby is a burrowing bandicoot that is now listed as vulnerable across Australia, and has endangered status in Queensland. Due to competition for habitat from farmers, rabbits, and cattle, along with predators such as foxes, dingoes, and feral cats, the bilby is now a highly vulnerable species.

Australian chocolatier Haigh’s Chocolates is palm-oil free and has offered bilby chocolate products for more than two decades, both to raise awareness for the plight of this native animal and to raise extra funds for the non-profit Rabbit Free Australia foundation and its Easter Bilby campaign.

Make your own Easter eggs

If you’re feeling creative, you could try making your own Easter eggs. Simply purchase blocks of Fair Trade-certified dark chocolate, as well as some bunny and egg moulds, melt the chocolate and set in the refrigerator. Wrap your eggs in tin foil and colourful ribbons before making them into a gift for loved ones and friends. Kids will also love decorating and adding their own finishing touches (such as sprinkles, toothpick designs and chocolate buttons) to the outside of the eggs.

Gift an ethical gift

Easter eggs and bunnies aren’t the only ways to celebrate Easter – giving thoughtful gifts to friends and family is also a great idea. For ethical options, look for your local Oxfam store or have a browse online for Fairtrade certified items. You can also shop online at various fair trade e-commerce sites or other online ethical marketplaces. These stores typically source items from producers who have received fair remuneration for their product and can afford to provide their workers with living wages and safe working conditions.

Make your own Easter baskets

A homemade Easter hamper is a wonderful way to show appreciation to your friends and loved ones while showing your artistic flair. Make up your own Easter baskets by buying a traditional wicker basket, or perhaps a more modern pre-decorated box, and arrange ethical and fair trade products inside it. You can create your own unique hampers and baskets, or put a spin on the traditional hamper by using decorated glass jars, buckets, and boxes. If you put an array of gifts in, such as chocolate, homemade potpourri, candles or plush toys, the recipient is sure to appreciate their personalised and ethically sourced Easter hamper.

An ethical Easter in line with Christian values

Choosing to have an ethical Easter is probably easier than you might think. By choosing consciously to align our values with our Easter purchases, we can contribute positively to the world at Easter, rather than taking away from it.