With the end of Easter and the Hilary term break, it is important to reflect on how concerns regarding sustainability and climate change are linked to our holiday celebrations. Not only does this involve reflecting on how Easter affects and is affected by climate change, but also on how we can celebrate Easter in a more sustainable manner.
Firstly, we need to break down what most Easter celebrations involve. Most of us would associate Easter with food such as Easter eggs, hot cross buns and Sunday roasts, but it is also important to include the holidays people go on over the Easter break. These Easter celebrations clearly contribute to climate change through greenhouse gas emissions, namely from food production – from agriculture, to packing, and transport – and travel – especially by air. In turn, climate change can affect our Easter celebrations in a variety of ways.
The most apparent effect climate change would have in relation to Easter would be in food production. Changing patterns of precipitation, surface temperature and other climatic and weather variables could greatly affect the growth of cacao plants, which are an environmentally sensitive species, and thus the production of chocolate. Furthermore, increased climate variability, leading to greater frequency and magnitude of extreme weather events, could affect food production on a wider scale. In turn, this would affect the livelihoods and overall well-being of farmers and other individuals and groups involved in the stages of food production.
In terms of Easter holidays, climate variability again plays a large role in disrupting travel plans. On one hand, it could simply make certain destinations warmer, colder or rainier, but in more extreme cases, the increased incidence of extreme weather events – from snow storms to typhoons – could dampen or even hinder holiday plans domestically or overseas. In addition to interrupting your own travel plans, these weather events – especially extreme ones – can affect entire tourism industries.
We can contribute towards mitigating these Easter-related climate change impacts through changing how we celebrate Easter itself. Namely, this calls for commitments towards sustainability in its environmental, social and economic aspects. Environmentally, this involves reducing our waste consumption, and maximizing our use of reusable or recyclable products as much as possible. A clear example would be through purchasing Easter eggs that are not individually wrapped in foil, using reusable or upcycled Easter decorations – such as decorated flower pots – and ensuring that your home, office or dormitory electricity and heating is turned off during any holidays you might take. An accessible way for most people to contribute towards economic and social sustainability would be through local or FairTrade suppliers, whether at home or while on holiday. For example, one could purchase ingredients for a Sunday roast from a nearby farmers market, or purchasing Easter eggs made from sustainably grown chocolate. Such chocolate would involve growing cocoa with minimal use of polluting technologies – such as pesticides and mechanical harvesters, energy and water. Furthermore, cocoa farmers should receive with a reasonable share of profit margins from chocolate sales, while ensuring the provision of infrastructure and institutions that can benefit farmers and their families.
While we should not restrict our initiatives to mitigate climate change and pursuit of sustainability to the suggestions mentioned in the article, Easter is definitely an occasion that can be celebrated both sustainably and to its fullest capacity!
Nlerenberg, D. (2013). 13 Tips for a More Sustainable Easter Celebration [Online]. Retrieved from https://www.huffingtonpost.com/danielle-nierenberg/sustainable-easter-tips_b_2963516.html [Accessed 7 April 2018]
Nottingham Trent University (2018). Top tips for a sustainable Easter [Online]. Retrieved from https://www.ntu.ac.uk/about-us/news/news-articles/2018/03/how-to-have-a-sustainable-easter [Accessed 7 April 2018]
Ofori-Boateng, K. & Insah, B. (2014). The Impact of Climate Change on Cocoa Production in West Africa. International Journal of Climate Change Strategies and Management. 6(3): 296-314
Ruf, F., Schroth, G. & Doffangui, K. (2015). Climate change, cocoa migrations and deforestation in West Africa: What does the past tell us about the future? Sustainable Science. 10: 101-111
Schroth, G., Läderach, P., Isaac, Martinez-Valle, A. I., & Bunn, C. (2017). From site-level to regional adaptation planning for tropical commodities: cocoa in West Africa. Mitigation and Adaptation Strategies for Global Change. 22(6): 903-927
University of Leicester (2017). 3 Steps for a Sustainable Easter Break [Online]. Retrieved from https://www2.le.ac.uk/offices/estates/environment/news/2017-news/5-steps-for-a-sustainable-easter-break [Accessed 7 April 2018]
OCS Media and Research Team
The latest in climate science and policy from the OCS team.