How to Have a Zero-Waste Picnic

Spring has finally sprung, and I can’t think of a better way to soak up the warm rays and the sweet aroma of flowers in the air than by having a picnic! When most of us think of a picnic, we probably picture a red and white gingham blanket, a picnic basket, and maybe a few ants. But in reality, picnics often include to-go containers, paper plates, single-use plastic utensils, and disposable table cloths. A reason for eating outdoors is to be able to enjoy the nature and environment around us. Can we really enjoy the beauty of the outdoors if we bring single-use plastic into it? Keep reading to learn how you can have a zero-waste picnic and leave no trace!

The key to having a zero-waste picnic is to bring stuff we already have at home: food, utensils etc. By doing this, we can eliminate the extra plastic that is utilized in take-out containers.

What’s in My Basket? To transport my food, I brought an insulated picnic basket, which is very convenient when bringing perishable foods. Another great thing about this basket is that it has a portable table that lays on the top of the basket. All I have to do is fold out the legs and— voila, I have a mini table! Now, let’s talk about the best part of the picnic (aside from enjoying nature, of course): the food. I brought two turkey sandwiches with pepperoncinis, red onions, lettuce, pepper jack cheese, and mustard. Instead of bringing them in a Ziploc bag or wrapping them in plastic wrap/aluminum foil, I brought one in a reusable and resealable glass container. The other, I wrapped in Bee’s Wrap. This is a biodegradable and reusable food wrap made of cloth and beeswax (hint to an upcoming blog post). These two options are great for storing leftovers and for picnics! I used the same type of container to bring my strawberries. Lastly, we can’t forget about the charcuterie; I brought a similar glass container with a snap-on lid for the cheese and meat in order to keep it fresh.

Because my picnic basket is insulated, I was able to keep my food cold inside it with ice packs. A great way to practice sustainable habits is by bringing reusable ice packs, rather than using big bags of ice. If you have a small cooler/picnic basket, half of it usually ends up being wasted, not to mention the waste that comes from the plastic it’s wrapped in.

Instead of bringing paper towels or paper napkins, try to opt for reusable cloth napkins. As for utensils, I would recommend wooden reusable ones, as metal utensils can be heavy. (Note to self for next time.) In order to have minimal to zero waste, I brought glass cups rather than plastic ones. I probably should have brought reusable plastic cups, as it would have been more convenient. (Honestly, I was worried they were going to break when transporting them.) To truly make it a spring picnic, I brought some flowers from a local flower shop. For the blanket, you can really use any kind; it’s all up to your individual taste. Finally, don’t forget to throw away or bring home any trash you may have. (Leftover food scraps make great compost.) With these tips from my own experience, you, too, can have a wonderful picnic and leave no trace!

Take a look at the gallery below, and feel free to take inspiration from them for your next picnic!

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