How to Have a Zero Waste Picnic

The weather is warming up, parks are opening up, and in some areas, you can finally gather in groups of ten- it is the perfect time for a picnic! There is nothing more fun than the chance to get outside, eat good food, and enjoy the sunny weather- picnics are a staple summer activity. It’s also a great time to make sure you’re leaving your picnic space just as nice as you found it- and what better way to appreciate the outdoors and reduce your impact than a zero-waste picnic? Here are some tips to cut out the single-use plastics and trash from your summer picnic!

First things first, an easy way to cut out unnecessary waste is by bringing your own reusable cutlery, cups, or dishes. You don’t need any fancy travel cutlery set or travel dishes, you can just bring your regular cutlery. If you usually bring single-use plates, consider bringing regular bowls and plates, eating out of Tupperware, or if you’re feeling creative- go for all finger foods that don’t need a plate (just don’t forget to bring reusable cloth napkins if you’re as clumsy as me!)

As for packaging the food itself, instead of Ziplocs and plastic wrap- opt for Tupperware, jars, or beeswax wraps (here’s a quick tutorial to make your own DIY beeswax wraps). If you want to bring snacks, instead of buying small snack-size packages, buy in bulk and just put some in a container. Jars are a great way to bring foods you’re worried might leak in a Tupperware.

A great picnic snack that is easy to bring and make zero waste is cut up fruit and vegetables. Another option to bring is an assortment of cheese and meats- usually, your local deli will let you bring your own container! This also might be a great time to try some baking- not only do homemade treats help you cut back on packaging since ingredients are easier to buy in bulk, but they’re also usually much tastier!

As for drinks, instead of buying bottled water or soft drinks, bring a reusable water bottle or a thermos. You can make homemade lemonade, or you can add things like lemon and cucumber to a pitcher of water to make infused water. You can bring drinks like coffee, tea, hot chocolate- or even get your favorite drink from a café in an auto-mug!

Finally, if you don’t have a basket or blanket fit for a picnic, instead of going out to buy one, try a reusable bag or use a picnic table, or see if you can borrow something from a friend. If you’re picking up food to takeaway, try to use your own Tupperware- or at least bring your own cutlery so you don’t need to use single-use plastics. Just remember to stay safe and up to date on what the social distancing rules are in your area! Have fun and enjoy national picnic day!

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UW Campus Compost

UW Campus Compost

A student-run club that operates a small-scale composting service, while also promoting sustainability through proper waste management and Zero Waste lifestyle.