A British summer isn’t complete without a countryside picnic. But, while alfresco dining is brilliant fun for the family, it produces a lot of waste. From shop-bought sandwiches to single-use cutlery, many essentials purchased for picnics get thrown in the bin after use.
Looking for ideas on how to make your picnic more sustainable? Take a look at some of the simple things you can do below. They might be small changes, but they will make a huge difference…
1. Bring reusable plates, cutlery and glasses
The first step to ensuring your picnic is plastic-free is to pack reusable plates, cutlery sets and glasses. You can either take these from home or, if you have picnics more regularly, invest in a bamboo picnic dining set to reuse each time you head out.
Likewise, reusable linen napkins are good to get your hands on. These can simply be popped in the washing machine once you get home.
Previous research conducted by the Ocean Conservancy lists plastic cutlery as among the items ‘most deadly’ to sea turtles, birds, and mammals. While it might be tempting to reach for plastic forks, think about the impact you’re having on the environment.
2. Cook from scratch
Picnics are famous for their mini sausages, pork pies and creamy pots of coleslaw. While these are delicious summertime treats, they come wrapped unnecessarily in plastic — which gets thrown away afterwards.
A brilliant way to save money, reduce waste, and make your picnics more tasty is to cook your lunch from scratch. Make sandwiches at home; whip up a scrumptious cold pasta salad; or even have a go at making your own slaw.
Remember to not over-pack on food, either: it’s tempting to often pop everything in your bag, but food is more likely to be wasted if you pack what you won’t eat.
3. Choose loose fruits and vegetables
Finger-food is especially popular with young children at picnics, but many of our favourite go-to choices are wrapped in plastic. Whether it’s carrot sticks, cucumber or peppers, choose fruits and vegetables from the ‘loose’ section at the supermarket. Remember to wash them before you leave the house, and pop them into reusable lunchbox (or some beeswax wraps) to take with you.
4. Get your cheese and meat from a fresh counter
Everyone loves a cheese sandwich, but did you get your cheese from a plastic packet in the fridge? The likelihood is yes, so if you’re opting for cheese on your picnic you may also need to consider other plastic-free options.\
Local delicatessens will sell ‘naked’ sliced and blocks of cheese without their packaging. While these may be a little more expensive than supermarket options, it’s a brilliant way to cut back on waste — and support your local deli, too.
5. Make your own dips
From humous to guacamole, these popular dips can easily be made in the kitchen using ingredients many of us already have. Tomato salsa, for example, is made by blending tomatoes, an onion and garlic together (remember to opt for loose ingredients). As well as being much cheaper to make yourself, you’ll also have fun doing so.
6. Use any leftovers to make compost
Instead of throwing away leftover food, use them to make a compost when you return home. From vegetable peelings to fruit waste and teabags, keep hold of these for your compost heap.
The team at Plastic Free July say: “If there’s any food scraps at the end of the day (like fruit rinds), be sure to take them home and compost them. Be sure to encourage people to take any yummy leftovers home, too, rather than throwing them out.”
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