The sun is shining, the days are getting longer and on the weekend nothing feels better than grabbing our gear and heading to the park or beach. Or even just setting up a spread in your garden if you're lucky enough to have one!
Picnicking can be a wasteful activity however if you have to bring plastic food wrappers, cling film, tin foil, plastic plates or glasses, napkins...the list goes on! Don't let the prep get you down, below we've compiled some fail-safe products and approaches to help you stay sustainable when exploring the outdoors!
Get the right rug!
If you already own a rug, take good care of it! The most sustainable item afterall is the one you already have. If it is polyester or made with synthetics, be sure to treat it carefully and perhaps invest in a Guppyfriend to capture up to 75% of any microfibres, when you decide to wash it.
For sustainable alternatives, natural materials are an excellent choice, however they're not always waterproof. Which, if the ground isn't dry or you get a spill might make things a little more challenging to manage. So, if you don't mind animal products, we recommend getting a waxed cotton and natural fibre blanket like this one made from recycled or sometime virgin wool. Which also folds up easily and is machine washable. Or, if you prefer, you can always opt for a soft and smooth, spill-resistant and machine washable rug made from recycled plastic bottles like this one from Weaver Green.
Image from Weaver Green
Get your reusable glass wear
It's all too easy to pick up some plastic cups and chuck them in the cooler. They're portable, lightweight, numerous, good for kids and not to mention they're super cheap. But when they sag from the Pimms, crack in the corners, or ultimately end up in landfill after being smushed underfoot there certainly are better options. A typical single use coffee cup needs 0.58 litres of water and produces up to 60.9 grammes of carbon dioxide during it's manufacturing whereas using recycled paper can save up to 200 million trees a year worldwide. So why not:
- Reuse your coffee cups or bring plastic cups from home (if you have them already)
- Get some stylish insulated tumblers for both hot and cold drinks from our build-your-own box
- Invest in an insulated wine bottle with champagne flutes
Paper cups can be tricky here as often they can be lined with bioplastic, aka cornstarch/sugarcane plastics that protect your drink, but also are tricky to recycle. Check with your local council before ordering.
Image from Vida Natural
Treat yourself to some sustainable drinks
Whether you're opting for alcohol or not, we've got you covered! Avoiding the supermarket where possible and purchasing from sustainable suppliers can be both fun and rewarding. Our top pick this summer is the HYKE Gin Very Special - is made using English-grown wine grapes, a by-product of the winemaking industry which is usually just discarded after pressing. Its luxurious velvety texture and rich complexity are lent by the English grape spirit, but Foxhole has also added 19 botanicals including Grapefruit, Earl Grey Tea and Lavender as well as a drop of their own brandy.
Go zero waste with food
There are lots of simple snacks and dishes you can prepare in advance that don't involve plastic. From hummus and dip, to homemade muffins, flapjacks, dried fruit, whole fruit, chickpea & bean salads and even breads, there's plenty to choose from if you make a plan. Some stress-free rules I live by are:
- Easily transportable
- Room-temperature - no melting! If you do want to bring cold items reuse ice packs
- Easy and clean to eat
- Easy to make!
If you have a zero waste store local to you it's a great place to get some beans, lentils, nuts and even soya chunks or pasta. Pack them into your reusable containers and you're off! You can even bring your beeswax wraps to keep everything cool and fresh, or to help pack up any leftovers. Or we love these reusable ziploc pouches too!
Image from Kempii
It might seem obvious to go ahead and get some reusable cutlery made of wood, bamboo or even wheat, but to be honest, for a picnic in your local area it's best to use what you have. If packing them up is troublesome or you want something more lightweight, we'd recommend something like these super cute travel tableware from Kempii or a sustainable bamboo cutlery set from Jungle Culture which can double-up as a back-to-work kit for anyone heading back into the office.
Leave No Trace
It might seem like the least sexy bit of a picnic, but tidying up after yourselves is the MOST important part. Make sure when you go out you pack two extra bags, one for any compost (aka food scraps) and one for any rubbish you might find or have created yourselves, like bottle tops, screw caps, corks or anything else. Do not leave anything behind! Even paper or cups that claim to be biodegradable need certain conditions to decompose in. Leaving waste on the surface of the soil poses a danger to wildlife and can easily be blown into waterways where it could do even more damage over time. Leave no trace.
Image from Unsplash
Whatever you decide to do, above all enjoy nature and have fun!