Earth is a beautiful place with many varied landscapes. From forests to parks to the beach, each place offers beautiful scenery and a great change of pace from our busy indoor lives. A great way to enjoy that fresh air close to home is to picnic when the weather is nice.
However, as our climate continues to change at a rapid rate, it’s important to respect these diverse ecosystems and all that they provide us. One way to elevate your picnic to the next level is by making it climate-friendly. That means less waste, less carbon, and more balance in the environment.
You can make any aspect of your picnic sustainable whether it’s by consciously choosing your menu or bringing the right plates. Want to know how to have your perfect sustainable picnic? Grab your favorite blanket, and let’s go!
A Perfectly Delicious Zero-Waste Spread
To start off, here are a few tips to create your perfect picnic - delicious, sustainable, and waste free.
Keep it Local and Sustainable
Shop for seasonal produce at your local farmers market when looking for your favorite fruits and veggies. Seasonal produce, for one, tastes better because it’s fresher! Some of the fruits and vegetables you find at the grocery store rely on coatings made from chemicals to keep them fresh and able to stay on the shelves longer. Or, the fruits and veggies were picked before peak ripeness so give them enough time to get to the store. The produce at your farmers market is more delicious because they don’t have any chemical coatings and are picked at just the right ripeness!
Shopping locally also reduces the distance the food must travel. Instead of going from the farmers to buyers to the store and then to you, the farmers have direct access to their customers. This not only keeps the food tasting fresh but also minimizes the carbon footprint of your perfect picnic.
Keep it Plastic-Free
When shopping, try to avoid products that come in plastic packaging. Only certain types of plastics are recyclable, and even then, most of it still ends up in landfills (only 8.7% of all plastic gets recycled in the US (in 2018!). We choose not to buy oranges, apples, carrots, cucumbers, and peppers packaged in plastic! We also love putting our treats in reusable containers. Sandwiches and salads are perfect in airtight containers, while hummus and dips like the one in our pesto recipe, can be stored in glass jars.
You can get snacks without plastic as well. Check out the bulk section of your grocery store for tasty bites. Or buy your snacks from sustainable brands like Moonshot that are carbon neutral and work with local farmers that are making healthier soil with regenerative agricultural practices.
Don’t Forget Your Reusable Hygge Setup!
These picnic essentials will help you be comfortable while you’re enjoying great company and great food: a large blanket, sunscreen, sunglasses, and tableware. Swap out traditional paper plates and napkins, plastic forks and knives, and paper cups for reusable ones instead. Just pack dirty tableware in your cooler at the end of the day and throw them in the dishwasher when you’re home!
Prepare a picnic set ahead of time with lightweight dishes made out of materials like bamboo or stainless steel and washable cloth napkins. We love bringing extras for friends that may not come as prepared, too. You’ll feel great when you don’t have to put anything in the garbage!
If you don’t own lightweight reusable tableware, you can also use compostable dining and silverware. They’re the next best thing to throwing something out in a landfill.
Pack it Out
When it’s time to go, don’t throw away your leftover food! But don’t put it in plastic bags, either. Use beeswax food wraps or reusable containers to keep your leftovers fresh for a few days after your picnic. Did you know that in the US, 40% of all food is wasted? When you eat picnic leftovers, you’ll be reminded of the good times, too! Another way to cut down on trash is to bring a reusable box for organic waste, like strawberry tops, to put in your personal compost bin at home.
Conclusion: Bringing it Home
The next time you plan a picnic, incorporate some of these sustainable tips when you’re choosing what to bring! Once the fun is over, don’t leave without doing these three things (After you’ve picnicked, just remember three things before you go):
- Leave no trace! Or even better, leave the space nicer than you found it. Bring a reusable bag or an old chip bag to pick up trash around your picnic area. Just five minutes of cleaning up makes a big difference for the wildlife and environment as a whole.
- Learn about the history of the land. As sustainability advocates, listening to and amplifying Indigenous voices who have been land stewards for millennia is essential. You can look up the Indigenous tribe whose land you’re occupying and what that means at our land acknowledgement.
- Lastly, take an opportunity to spread awareness about sustainability by sharing your experience and tips with others. Post about your picnic on social media and tag the sustainable brands you shopped from. Your voice can inspire others to picnic and live more sustainably!