With warmer weather now underway and restrictions for outdoor gatherings now easing up we caught up with some of our favourite sustainable living influencers to find out more how can we make sure we reduce the waste that often comes from picnics while still enjoying our time with friends, family, work colleagues’ outdoors. Continue reading below to find out what they say.
Andri from @thesustainablelibrary runs a fantastic blog where she shares ideas for how to live a more sustainable life as well as a YouTube channel where she shares 5 minutes honest reviews of products.
What are your favourite foods to bring to a picnic?
'I love baking so I will always try out a new vegan cupcake, brownie or cake recipe for a picnic. Sweet things are sometimes the hardest to find not wrapped in plastic so making your own is fun, plastic free and always taste better. I also like fresh snacks for a picnic that you can keep on eating throughout the day. I love chopping up some carrots and cucumber from our veggie boxes and my husband makes an amazing hummus. Other than that lose fruit like bananas, nectarines and cut apples. For me it’s all about keeping it simple and lots of times using up what we have in the fridge.'
What are some of your favourite plastic-free alternatives to picnic essentials?
'I find the the most plastic comes from things like plastic cups to pour drinks into, buying pre-cut fruit and veg, the plastic wrapping around paper plates and plastic cutlery. I’d always opt for pre-cutting some fruit and veg myself at home and taking them in my own containers and I’ve now got a stash of light cutlery that I’ve collected from takeout where they still included the cutlery even though I said no to it. Those are so easy to just pop in a bag and take with. I also tend to use the lids from the containers I take my food in as plates instead of paper plates and finally I’ve invested in some cool glass jars with handles and lids with straws that I pour my drink in. Practical, so spilling and so fun for a picnic.'
Easy ways of cutting down on waste that usually come from picnics?
'I think the most waste that’s created when we go out for picnics comes from not planning. It’s easy to quickly pop into the shop 30 minutes before the picnic and buy a couple of pre-made, pre-packed things. Planning means you can use up what you have in your fridge (no food waste), not over buy (which happens so much) and also have less plastic. I also love taking my fruit to picnic’s in a string bag (the same ones I use for my bulk shopping) that I then use as a little dustbin to take home any trash and fruit peels. The bins in parks usually become overfull very quickly on nice days so rather take your trash home with you and add it to the right recycling that just throwing it in the nearest bin.
Personally I can’t wait to go out for a picnic again, but it’s important to remember that any trash you do leave behind also needs to be removed by someone else and it’s not fair to make that person work twice as long to pick up litter that wasn’t disposed of properly. We can all have a much better time by planning, using what we have and taking our trash with us.'
Eva from @pathtogreenerliving has a great Instagram where she spreads environmental awareness and the damages of litter as well as ideas of how to cut down on waste.
Favourite snacks to take to a picnic?
'I would bring: a fresh baguette and vegan butter, some carrot sticks, cucumber sticks, hummus and some crisps! Then maybe some lemonade or cordial in glass and aluminium'
Best plastic-free and reusable essentials to bring along?
'My fave essentials would be reusable cutlery and food containers and reusable cups, bottle and straws. I'd probably bring my own coffee cup just in case I need it too!
Then also a sunscreen (which I have in a tin) and a reusable mask in COVID times! And last but not least a reusable bag to carry it all in!
Jess from @jessrigg_ is the host of The Ethical Conversations podcast that focuses on everything eco-friendly, slow living and ethical.
Ideas of snacks to bring to a picnic?
'I would bring hummus and veggies such as cucumber, celery and carrots!'
Essentials to have with you to cut down on waste?
'My metal cutlery from home, my recycled plastic picnic blanket and a reusable water bottle!'
Mary-Lou from @_sustainablevibes writes a wonderful blog with the same name which you can find here around how to live a more conscious life.
Favourite foods to bring to a picnic?
'We have a LOT of picnics through summer. Every walk in the forest or by the sea is an excuse for us to pack a few supplies and make the most of being outside. With a 5yr old and a 3 yr old, eating outside is always an excitement! But this means we try to avoid messy, staining foods as much as possible and stick to the tried and tested sandwiches which can be wolfed down in between games. The rest of the food is less formal and more “pick at it” food that will survive the trip back to the fridge if it is not eaten. Our favourites are: sliced capsicums, sliced apple (surprisingly it doesn’t go brown), little pots of nuts and raisins made from our larger supply at home, and of course filled bottles of water (did you know that juice makes little ones need the toilet more often?!).
If I have time to cook something before we go, I love throwing together a quick orzo pasta, squeezing in some lemon juice or olive oil, some fresh herbs and adding in whatever vegetables I have at the bottom of the fridge. Orzo doesn’t need much of a sauce and tastes delicious cold.'
Favourite plastic free picnic essentials?
'Definitely Wax wraps. I have not used single use cling film for sandwich wrapping for years, but before I discovered wax wraps I was carrying around bulky Tupperware containers (great for putting your waste in to be fair) or wrapping my sandwiches in bread bags where they inevitably came apart. Now I wrap all our sandwiches in wax wraps which hold together my food tightly. No stray bits of lettuce falling out of my lunch bag!
I also always have a set of bamboo cutlery and a couple of cloth napkins (for wiping) in my bag all through summer. The cutlery comes in handy on many an unexpected eating occasion and the napkins are essential if you don’t want to be reliant on wet wipes or disposable tissues. I keep my bamboo cutlery in a handy little pouch and it takes up no room at all.'
Easy ways to cut down on waste that comes from picnics?
'The best way to cut down on waste from a picnic is to take what you can from home. When you are caught unprepared you usually end up having to buy lots of pre packed foods which can create a lot of waste. If you do end up in this situation, looking for a bakery is best as you can usually get what you need in one or two brown paper bags which you can then collect your rubbish in and dispose of in a more guilt free way!
One of my favourite things to take on a picnic are home made mix up bags. I keep a big box of sweets for the kids at home – topped up either from the bulk food section of the supermarket (who doesn’t love a pick n mix!) or from large bags I have purchased (absolutely no mini Haribo packets in this house!). When going on picnics or sometimes even on forest walks, I make a little bag of sweets for each of us using small brown paper bags. It means each time we go on a picnic the treats are different, and they add a fun element of surprise. And unless they are excitedly ripped open, the brown bags do quite a few outings before they need to be composted. '