It’s summertime! As you head into the great outdoors to relish the sunshine and summer fun, make sure you’re also keeping Mother Nature beautiful.
Picnics and meals in the great outdoors can generate lots of trash, contribute to carbon dioxide in the environment and support the “big food” industry rather than local farmers. Crazy right? But with just a few shifts, your picnic can have a positive impact for your community and your environment.
Step 1: Ditch the Car!
Reduce your carbon footprint and pick a picnic spot you can walk, bike, boat or you can get to with public transit. If that’s not possible, carpool with friends.
Step 2: Shop Local!
Shop at your local Farmer’s Market or produce stand for a local and organically grown menu. Studies show that if $100 is spent at a national chain or “big-box store”, only $43 is re-circulated into our local economy. However, for every $100 spent at an independently-owned small business, approximately $68 is reinvested into our community’s economy.
Great produce makes the chef’s job super easy! Think simple. Finger foods like cut fruits, nuts, local honey and peanut butter sandwiches are simple and nourishing for all ages. Also, some cheeses, like Brie and Camembert, are lovely softened in the sun over fresh baked bread.
Make your own beverage and serve in a pitcher. That way you don’t have to deal with all the cans and bottles.
Step 3: No excuse for Single-use!
Say goodbye to throwaways and plastics. Too often outdoor celebrations generate excessive waste because organizers are concerned about using breakable tableware outdoors and the hassle of cleaning up reusable.
One idea is to ask picnickers to BYO- dishes, water bottles or cups, cloth napkins, and utensils. If you explain that you’re hosting a zero waste party and need some help to accomplish this in the great outdoors, you’ll be amazed how willing people are to help out.
If that’s not your style, pack a sturdy cardboard box with re-usables to share with your guests. We suggest stainless steel picnic plates, assorted reusable utensils, cotton washable napkins and mason jars or stainless steel cups for drinks. Sure there’s a little extra washing up, but when we think about how much we saved not buying expensive throwaway plates, utensils, and napkin and how much less trash we’ve got, we don’t mind the extra work!
Step 4: Pack reusable!
Bring reusable picnic blankets and decorate tables with washable tablecloths – instead of disposables. We love adding a little extra joy to our celebrations with candles, fresh-cut flowers or found objects from nature in our table arrangements.
Step 5: Clean up responsibly!
Have bins or boxes for recycling, compost and waste clearly marked and available for use by your guests. If you hiked or walked in, make sure to pack out all your waste. If you’re in a park that doesn’t offer recycling or composting, take it home and use your own compost and recycling bins.
Step 6: Make it Happen!
Celebrate the joy of making a difference and knowing, as Gandhi said, “Action expresses priorities.” Let’s be green – and act green while picnicking!