How to have an eco-friendly picnic

Summer is just
around the corner, and that means it’s picnic season. But a
picnic with juice boxes and individually wrapped treats creates a
lot of waste that only contributes to the growing plastic crisis.
Have an eco-friendly picnic this summer instead and spend time
enjoying and protecting the environment around you in real ways
that you can be proud of.

Eliminating waste

Paper plates, paper napkins and plastic cutlery mean lots of
waste for any picnic.
Eliminate all of that by using cloth napkins and serving foods that
don’t need extra plates. Items that can be eaten by hand don’t
require forks and spoons. Sandwiches, vegetable slices, crackers,
rolls, wraps — the list of great finger foods goes on and on.


Related: How to replace single-use and plastic items in the
kitchen

Bring reusable cups and napkins on the picnic and take them with
you when you leave. That means don’t bring any plastic straws or juice
boxes, either.

bowls of hummus, plate of bread and a wood cutting board on a blue and white blanket

Preparing the food

Support the local community and small farmers by buying local
when you’re shopping for ingredients. Go to a farmers market to get
fresh, local ingredients. If possible, ride a bike over to the
market and back so you aren’t adding any carbon emissions to the
atmosphere when you do your shopping. Pack your food in silicone
bags or glass containers instead of plastic containers to be even
more green.

Consider a meal that doesn’t include any beef.
Environmentalists warn that beef production on a massive scale
creates numerous risks to the planet, from the methane generated on
cattle farms to the energy it takes to transport the beef. Opt for
vegetarian and vegan
options at the picnic to be as eco-friendly as possible.

Related:
Cool vegan recipes for a hot summer

If you do end up with orange peels, wrappers and other waste at
the end of the picnic, pick up all of these items instead of
leaving them behind. Some food remains, like rinds and peels, can
be added to the compost pile. Recycle or
wash and reuse everything else that you possibly can.

Grilling

If you plan to grill for your picnic, plan ahead with the planet
in mind. Grilling can release a lot of carbon emissions into the
air; however, when done properly, grilling can be better for the
environment than cooking in the kitchen.
Solar cookers
are a great option, but you’ll have to bring
your cooker with you to the picnic and you need the weather to be
in your favor for it to work.

If you can’t use a solar cooker, you can use natural lump
charcoal. Rather than lighter fluid, use a charcoal chimney. This
is a green alternative to standard grilling. If you’re having a
picnic in the park, there will be plenty of community grills
available for use. Remember to take any aluminum foil and other
waste with you when you leave the picnic area for proper
disposal.

rubber ball in grass

Playing games

It won’t do much good to prepare an eco-friendly meal and then
play picnic games that create a lot of waste. A flying disc is a
great option. Jump ropes can be folded and packed away easily, so
this is another item to bring for some fun picnic activities. A simple
rubber ball can be used to play kickball, dodge ball or any number
of other sports.

Keep eco-friendly games in mind when you’re thinking about
picnic recreation. Choose activities that leave no waste behind and
don’t alter the environment in any way.

Keeping insects away

Using bug sprays isn’t the best choice for an eco-friendly
picnic. Stick to natural ways to keep bugs away, such as crushed
lavender flowers or citronella to repel mosquitoes. Lavender oil is
effective at keeping a number of insects away, including
mosquitoes. You can also mix garlic and lemon to keep insects and
even some animals away from your picnic area, although the smell
that drives them away can be unpleasant for people, too.


Related: 4 DIY herbal remedies that take the sting out of pesky bug
bites

straw hat and three bottles of sunscreen and lotion on a purple and blue blanket

Applying sunscreen

Be sure to keep a reef-safe sunscreen on hand, and for
added protection, pack a big straw hat. Don’t forget to reapply
your sunscreen, too, to prevent harmful sunburn.

Traveling

If possible, bike or walk to your picnic location to reduce
emissions.
If that’s not an option, carpool or ride public transit to the
picnic spot to reduce the number of vehicles on the road. All those
little changes really do add up to be a big help to the
environment.

Images via Kate Hliznitsova,
Toa Heftiba,
Yaroslav
Verstiuk
and Antonio Gabola

Source: FS – All – Ecology – News 2
How to have an eco-friendly picnic