Summer will be here before you know it—what better time to pack up a picnic and scoot outdoors with the kids for a little fresh air and family togetherness! And while a picnic may naturally be a bit more eco-friendly than, say, a drive-thru, we have a few tips for greening it up even more.
Steer Clear of Single-Use
When it comes to plates, cutlery, napkins—even your picnic blanket and basket—look for things you already have at home or, if you have to purchase them, choose items with little to no impact on the environment. For example:
- Bring your own silverware or opt for edible cutlery made from rice, wheat and sorghum. You may even want to try a variety of biodegradable and compostable containers and utensils made from corn starch, potato starch and sugar cane.
- Or pack finger foods and forego the need for cutlery altogether!
- Your own real plates add a touch of sophistication and can’t be bested for eco-friendliness. They’re infinitely better than foam plates, which are difficult to recycle and take seemingly forever to break down in the landfill.
- Can’t bring your own plates? Look for the tin variety at an Army/Navy or camping store, or use recycled paper plates. Plates sourced from bamboo are also a good alternative—they’re reusable when you hand wash them and biodegradable when you’re finished with them.
- Use cloth napkins instead of paper.
- For your “basket,” carry all your goodies in a self-cleansing, reusable grocery bag or reusable produce bags, and take along an old bedsheet or blanket for your spread. If you’re into repurposing, try this fun idea for creating your own waterproof picnic blanket!
Plan an Eco-Friendly Menu
- Take advantage of the wide variety of locally grown fruits and veggies available this time of year at farmer’s markets and produce stands.
- By becoming a “locavore,” not only do you support your local economy, but you also help reduce the carbon footprint of the food you eat!
- Ask local growers whether they use sustainable farming practices.
- If you’re a gardener, why not bring produce from your own garden?
Pitch the Plastic
- Reduce packaging by buying snacks or treats in bulk whenever possible. Package what you need in reusable snack bags and save the rest for later.
- Avoid plastic wrap by using silicone lids and/or reusable sandwich wraps.
- Bring your own glass water bottle instead of single-use plastic ones. Fill it with filtered water from your kitchen—or for a fun science project with the kids, you can try making your own “water bubbles” (but good luck transporting them)!
- Choose stainless steel drinking straws over plastic ones.
Be sure to recycle everything you can when your picnic is over. Most of all, have fun and enjoy sweet time with your family!
What other ways can you think of to keep your picnic green? We’d love to hear from you—just leave a comment below.
Healthy Green Natural:
Green Your Summer Outdoor Picnics & Parties with 16 Fun & Fabulous Ecofriendly Finds
1 Million Women: 10 Ways to Green Your Party
Postconsumers: Eco-Friendly Summer Picnics
SC Johnson: Eco-Friendly Picnics
Kickstarter: Edible Cutlery: The Future of Eco Friendly Utensils
SF Gate: Ridding the World of Plastic Forks
BreastCancer.org: Ditching Disposable Dishes for Good
Record Searchlight: Distinctly Green: Bamboo makes for great reusable plates
Care2: The Truth About Styrofoam (Infographic)
Wimp: She Cuts Her Old Jeans Into Pieces For A Very Special Reason. It’s Absolutely Perfect For Spring
Organic Authority: How To Find Your Local Food Sources
PBS: 10 Steps to Becoming a Locavore
Grace Communications Foundation: Where Can You Find Sustainable Food?
YouTube: How to Make an Edible Water “Bottle” or Bubble
Great ideas! We’re gearing up for camping this season and I’ve been exploring bamboo plates. Thanks for the tips.
Wondering if bamboo plates available in the UK and if so, where from? Never seen them.
Hi Selena, your question got me curious too. I did a quick search and found this site, which looked good. However, I’ve not used them so can’t say for sure. https://www.littlecherry.co.uk
Let us know if you decide to give them a try!
I’ve been curious about edible cutlery, thanks for including it in the list. As long as people are willing to eat it – and not put it in the landfill – it sounds like it could be a great option!
Love these ideas!
I love the thought of bamboo plates! Putting these on my list!
edible silverware!! Who knew? Thanks
wow too cool!!! DIY Edible Water “Bottle” – The NEW Bubbled Water
I switched to making cloth napkins at home vs. using paper. We have opened our home to foster kids for 8 years and now we are hosting Airbnb guests in our former foster kids rooms. With that I found paper towel use and napkin use was on the rise. I now have Norwex to thank for the kitchen towels to replace paper towels and I made my own cloth napkins with little foxes on them (our last name means Fox in German.) This way it ties into our theme of the Fuchs Family Bed and Breakfast for our Airbnb. Much better than toss away paper products.
Those water bubbles are crazy! What a great project to do with children, but not sure they (ahem, I) would have the patience.
Great Idea. I should take my kids camping and try these ideas out.
Love these ideas! It really isn’t hard to pack an eco-friendly picnic! It just takes a bit of thought when packing it up!
Great ideas! Thank you for sharing! <3
very nice blog
Edible cutlery sounds interesting. Made to taste like a dessert, by chance?