Summer - ‘tis the season for ice cream trucks, open-air barbecue, and sunbathing on the warm sand of your local beach! Although the sunshine and blue skies make it the perfect time to kick back and relax with loved ones, planning an outdoor excursion for a whole group of family and friends might still prove difficult, especially if you’re as much of an eco-enthusiast as we are.
Not to worry. If you’re looking for ways to plan a simple, sustainable outing that everyone will enjoy, you don’t have to look any further than the kitchen in your own home, because a classic picnic is the answer! Not only will a picnic grant you the chance to unwind alongside the picturesque scenery of nature, it’s also incredibly easy to make them Earth-friendly with reusable utensils, waste-free packaging, and a variety of healthy, delicious food for the whole family. It’s an ever-popular, fail-safe way to enjoy the great outdoors to the fullest while knowing that you’re taking the right steps to protect the planet.
With a little bit of preparation and a lot of enthusiasm, you’ll find that planning the perfect sustainable picnic is a lot easier than you think. To help you out in the process, here are some handy tips to keep in mind while you work your magic!
Assemble an Eco-Friendly Feast
First up: food. As the most important ingredient to a successfully sustainable picnic, you’ll want to make sure that the options you choose for your are healthy, sustainable, and of course, delicious. For this reason, try to avoid any processed food, or snacks and meals that involve too much single-use packaging - for example, maybe hold off on that huge bag of chips or those soda cans, no matter how tempting they look on the shelf!
Excessive waste is one of the biggest issues with consuming processed food, and steering clear of it by bringing only sustainable snacks will help your picnic avoid that. Try putting together some healthy, tasty homecooked food instead, like sandwiches wrapped in cloth, sliced veggies with dip, or bite-sized finger foods like sausage rolls or deviled eggs.
Don’t forget to pack everything in reusable containers to really commit to a waste-free feast! If you’re running out of ideas for foods that’ll satisfy the whole family, you can also try turning your picnic into a potluck-style event - this way, everyone will be able to contribute their own favourites for a scrumptious, sustainable meal.
Always Choose Reusable, Sustainable Supplies
The next most important part of a good picnic is the supplies. This involves everything from the cloth you set down on the grass to the cutlery you’ll use to plate up your eco-friendly food choices. To maximize sustainability, you should always aim to use supplies that are reusable at every turn, no matter what they are!
This means avoiding those single-use plastic forks, knives, or cups, no matter how much easier they make the cleanup process. Supporting the health of the planet is far more important than packing up a few minutes earlier, after all. Swap those for stainless steel utensils and ceramic plates from home, switch your Ziploc bags and plastic containers for Tupperware and metal lunchboxes, and avoid using plastic sheets as your picnic cloth (upcycled blankets your child’s grown out of are a great option for this)! If you want to take it one step further, bringing glassware that’s been upcycled from used bottles is an even better, doubly sustainable decision to make.
To really commit to zero waste, make sure to also bring along enough cloth napkins and handkerchiefs for the whole family so that you won’t be left with a small mountain of crumpled up paper towels and Kleenexes. This way, everything in your picture-perfect picnic will be reusable, sustainable, and 100% Earth-friendly.
Don’t Forget to Pay Attention to Waste!
Once you’ve finished catching up with family and friends and eating your fill of all the delicious food everyone’s prepared, the dreaded cleanup process begins. Though the perfect summer weather and sunshine might make you feel a bit lazy, it’s important to not slack off when cleaning up, especially when you’re having your picnic outdoors in the embrace of nature.
Bring along a few (or more than a few) garbage bags to make sure your picnic doesn’t create any extra litter in whichever picturesque place you’ve chosen! If you’re on the right track, you shouldn’t have much waste to clean up at all, but it’s still a good idea to double-check your surroundings to ensure they’re clean and garbage-free.
Pack up any leftovers for later in your reusable containers and distribute them among your friends and family as you like. Don’t forget about recycling, either - recycling bins are much rarer outdoors than regular garbage cans, so if you can’t find one nearby, bring your recyclable items home with you to ensure they go where they belong.
Though planning the picture-perfect, eco-friendly picnic might seem like a bit of a challenge at first, you’ll quickly find that it’s far simpler than you might think. Like almost every family-oriented event with a focus on sustainability, there’s three key things you need to pay attention to: natural, healthy food, reusable supplies, and zero waste (or as little as possible).
Once you’ve gotten all of these down, you’ll be ready for your picnic faster than you can say “sustainability!” So don’t wait till summer’s over - pack up, get your green on, and venture out into the great outdoors to appreciate the sunshine as soon as you can. The Earth will thank you!