How to Have a Low Waste Picnic
As rain clouds are drying up and the summer weather arrives, it's a perfect time to prepare ourselves for zero waste picnics. Or, low waste picnics, because let's be honest, it's very difficult to live your life with zero waste- especially if you’re just starting out. Don’t let your hands down if you’re not “perfect” at zero waste- the environment will be impacted tremendously by a lot of people doing zero waste imperfectly, rather than a handful of people doing it perfectly.
Get Your Kids Involved:
You’ve probably heard about the monster called “plastic pollution” that is taking shape on our beautiful earth, created by our lack of education on the impacts of plastic. Making small swaps can be major in reducing plastic pollution in the long run, so let’s change our habits now, and educate our children on why these swaps are important for the sake of our earth.
Having a low waste picnic is cheaper, healthier, and more environmentally friendly than a traditional picnic, and it’s a great opportunity to educate our children on plastic pollution. When you’re shopping you can talk to kids about why glass or aluminum is better than plastic packaging, you can prepare snacks at home with your kids for eating out rather than going to shop to get unhealthy, plastic-wrapped food, you can explain to them why you pack their lunch in a bamboo lunchbox instead of plastic one, and you can tell them why it’s better to drink water from a stainless steel bottle instead of the ever popular single-use plastic bottle. In order to make better choices later in life, our children have to be involved in these conversations now.
Low Waste Shopping:
Shopping sustainably is one of the biggest ways you can reduce your waste. Here are some ideas on how you can shop sustainably:
● Choose loose fruit or veggies wherever possible instead of produce pre-packed in plastic. Use paper bags if they are provided to carry the produce, or ideally, use reusable cotton bags (or if you take just three carrots, believe me, you don’t really need any bag to carry them).
● When you’re checking out your loose veggies and fruits, tell the cashier to skip the plastic bags. I have been in shops many times with a trolly full of loose produce, and cashiers have tried to put them in their little plastic monsters on hand. But, every time, I kindly (but urgently) refuse. This was uncomfortable at first, because it felt like I was being rude, but I always try to just smile and be polite. I don’t want to hurt anyone's feelings, but I do want them to know that I am against plastic bags, hopefully sending a message to the store that they should consider banning plastic bags.
● If you’re getting bread, buy it from a bakery- it’s fresh, delicious, and can be plastic free if you bring a reusable bag to put it in.
● Buy glass jars or bottles instead of plastic when buying oil, tomato sauce, mayo, etc..
● Buy loose leaf tea instead of tea bags (which are laced with plastic).
● If you have to have crisps, candy, or snacks like that, buy a big pack instead of individual servings to cut down on plastic packaging. Same for little bottles or packs of juice- take a big pack and share between kids (I personally never include them in our picnic basket).
● Buying snacks in bulk is always a great idea- you can get seeds, nuts, raisins, etc.. in big bags and make a mix of those to include in your picnic snacks, or ideally, you can buy them loose from bulk bins and put the snacks in your own reusable bags.
These are a great couple of ideas if you’re just starting out and looking for little swaps in the supermarket. Remember- small changes go a long way. Thumbs up. You’re doing great!
Low Waste Eating:
Since we know that eating plant-based greatly reduces your impact on the environment, packing plant-based foods ensures that you’re not only shopping and packing sustainably, but you’re eating sustainably, too. Some plant-based food ideas include:
● Sandwiches. Any filling, shape, size- you can’t go wrong
● Homemade hummus and fresh veggie sticks
● Fresh, sliced fruit and berries
● Home-popped popcorn (you can make it salty or sweet)
● Nut butter snack-balls
● Banana bread. If you have a spare hour for baking, it’s a fantastic and easy treat
● Home-made ice-lollies (pack with ice blocks for the perfect treat for kids)
● Baked potatoes (we are potato people)
● Nut, seed ,and dried fruit snack mix
Low Waste Packing:
Reusable lunch bags, water bottles, and cups made out of materials like bamboo, glass, or stainless steel are ideal for packing. Some great items for packing include:
● Bamboo or stainless steel lunch boxes
● Soy wax wraps (perfect for sandwiches)
● Glass jars
● Glass or stainless steel water bottles
● Reusable cups for coffee, tea, juice, etc.
● Bamboo forks, spoons, or forks
● Reusable towels to use as napkins
If you don’t want to buy anything new, you can reuse plastic containers that you already have, such as takeaway boxes. It’s more ecofriendly to use things you already have, because you won’t be demanding any energy or resources to make new items. If you don’t have any containers readily available to use, I don’t suggest buying anything that is made of plastic, as it is clear that all plastic is bad for the environment (and even our health). It is always best to use reusable, non-plastic containers.
The possibilities are endless to have a great and easy low waste picnic this summer. Keep trying, failing, and succeeding with different ways of packing and with what food you pack, and in no time, you’ll know exactly what works for you and your family.
My family and I started low-waste picnic journey around 2 years ago and I have to say- it’s a never-ending process to figure out what works perfectly. Sometimes we’re on point, sometimes we’re not. But, just reminding myself how far we have come, how much less plastic and waste we are creating, and how much we’ve learned is a great reminder and motivator to spread this message as far and wide as I can. Every single one of us can change a thing or two- it’s a responsibility of a collective. If we don’t act now, the consequences will be unimaginable.
Let’s have beautiful, mindful, low waste picnics this summer.
Hi! I’m a full-time mom to two amazing boys. In between chasing them around, homeschooling and all other things, I really enjoy nature, reading, meditating, self-development, travelling, capturing moments on camera and, in general, trying to be a considerate and compassionate human being and teaching the same to my boys. Minimalist, zero-waste, and healthy plant-based living is my passion and my way of living, and now as an intern blog writer for Zero Waste Club, I’ll be writing about these things and spreading the message. You can find me on Instagram @montamusinska