By Fredrica Syren:
Ahhh summer break is finally here and me and family have 8 weeks of summer fun together. We love spending as much time outdoors as possible and that includes having picnics.There is nothing my kids like more than an outdoor picnic. We’ll bring a blanket and picnic lunch to enjoy on the grass after any outdoor activities. It’s funny how a meal outdoors on a blanket somehow just tastes better. I like this option better than grabbing a lunch at a restaurant because a bring-along picnic lunch is healthier and cheaper for a family of five.
However, a picnic traditionally can create lots of waste — everything from leftover food, plastic cups and utensils to paper napkins and plates. The good news is that it’s possible to organize a zero-waste picnic.
Here is how you make sure your picnic is as green as the grass that you will be dining on!
Picnic basket — Let’s begin with how you transport the food. Forget wasteful disposable plastic or paper bags, and invest in a cooler or a picnic basket made with natural material like bamboo or natural willow. A backpack or a reusable shopping bag can work as well.
Skip the disposable items — Invest in reusable bamboo plates and cups as well as utensils, and use cloth napkins. If you do need to bring disposable plates, etc., then make sure they are made from either corn or potato starch. We always bring a compostable plastic bag to gather food scraps that we’ll either bring to our compost or to a commercial composting facility. We bring the food that we’re going to eat in compostable zip lock bags or in reusable food containers. Another tip for less waste is to skip the kids’ juice boxes because not only do they generate lots of trash but they also contain lots of sugar. A green and healthy tip is to put flavored water or homemade vitamin water or lemonade in reusable stainless steel water bottles with straws for the kids.
Make the menu organic and sustainable — I love going to our local organic farmers’ market and pick up a lunch that we’ll enjoy in nature together because fresh and local food is my favorite food to eat. But you don’t have to go to a farmers’ market to find sustainable food. Just choose seasonal, organic and local food at your local grocery store for your picnic.
Pick up after yourself — Make sure to gather your belongings before you leave. Don’t leave any food scraps, as they might be compostable — but they are not good for wildlife to eat. My general rule is to leave things better than when we arrived.