Hot sunny days are made for wandering around and just enjoying the weather. For me, picnics are an essential part of summer as they combine two of my guilty pleasures: good food and basking in the sun. The concept of zero waste is one of my favourites, although it needs to be broken down step-by-step somewhat. So here are my tips for a successful zero-waste picnic!
1. Choose reusable tableware
Choose rigid, resealable plastic containers that you can use again on your next picnic. Personally, I much prefer to buy one sandwich box than dozens of disposable plastic bags. For utensils, you could bring your usual ones from home or consider some novel items such as sporks, which can be very handy.
If reusable containers are not an option, you may opt for tableware that is recyclable or compostable. In either case, make sure that it is certified as such. You may be surprised to learn that some municipalities recycle polystyrene, so ask around.
2. Be creative
- Set yourself a challenge to try out new recipes—who knows, you might find your new favourite dish!
- Take a flask rather than a bottle of water. I like to bring a big jug of cool fruit-flavoured water. It’s incredibly easy: just fill your jug up with water, then add your favourite frozen berries.
- Buy loose or in bulk! Have a sweet tooth? Buy dark chocolate loose and bring it along for dessert. Prefer savoury? Popcorn is a simple, delicious snack that is perfect for summer outings.
3. Communicate and get informed
For your zero-waste picnic to be a success, you need everyone’s cooperation. Don’t be shy about assigning tasks—one person can be responsible for bringing all the recyclables home while someone else can take care of the compostables. By combining everyone’s strengths, your meal will be a sustainable, collaborative effort.
Next, find out more about where you will be eating. By being aware of the services available, you can make more informed choices. For example, if the park you are going to doesn’t have facilities for compost, favour reusable or recyclable utensils instead.
4. Leave nothing behind
Think about what you are going to do with the leftovers—bring a small pail, which you can empty at home, or a compostable bag. Bring recyclables back in a bag and put them in your bin!
Finally, ask yourself the ultimate question: have you left any visible traces of your day out behind? If the answer is no, your zero-waste picnic has been a success!