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6 Easy Steps for An Earth-Friendly, Plastic Free Picnic

Written by Sandra Ann Harris

Photography by Photo By Kristen Curette & Daemaine Hines

It’s summertime, which means picnic parties with friends and family are definitely on the agenda. Before you head out and stock up on throwaway picnic staples like plastic cups, plates, utensils, and napkins, take a minute to tune up your eco-friendly skills and learn how to ditch needless waste (especially during Plastic Free July)!

According to Sandra Ann Harris—the author of Say Goodbye To Plastic: A Survival Guide to Plastic-Free Living and founder of ECOlunchboxas we eat, drink, and be merry, there’s no need to fall back into wasteful habits and trash our planet with needless single-use plastics. Instead, here are a few tips from her book to help you reboot your picnicking habits.

Step #1: Ditch the Car
Reduce your carbon footprint and pick a picnic spot you can walk, bike, boat, or get to with public transit. If that’s not possible, carpool with friends.

Step #2: Pack Reusables
Bring reusable picnic blankets and decorate tables with washable tablecloths instead of disposables. We love adding a little extra joy to our celebrations with candles, fresh-cut flowers, or found objects from nature in our table arrangements.

Step #3: Shop Local
Shop at your local farmer’s market or produce stand for a local and organically grown menu. Great produce makes the chef’s job super easy! Think simple. Finger foods like cut fruits, nuts, or local honey and peanut butter sandwiches are simple and nourishing for all ages. Also, some cheeses, like Brie and Camembert, are lovely softened in the sun and spread over fresh baked bread.

Bonus tip: Make your own beverage and serve it in a pitcher. That way you don’t have to deal with all the cans and bottles.

Step #4: No Excuse for Single-Use
Too often outdoor celebrations generate excessive waste because organizers are concerned about using breakable tableware outdoors and the hassle of cleaning up. One idea is to ask picnickers to BYO dishes, water bottles or cups, cloth napkins, and utensils. If that is not your style, pack a sturdy cardboard box with reusables to share with your guests. We suggest stainless steel picnic plates, assorted reusable utensils, cotton washable napkins, and mason jars or stainless steel cups.

Step #5: Clean Up Responsibly
Have bins or boxes for recycling, compost, and waste clearly marked and available for use by your guests. If you hiked or walked in, make sure to pack out all your waste. If you are in a park that does not offer recycling or composting, take it home and use your own compost and recycling bins.

Step #6: Make It Happen
Celebrate the joy of making a difference and knowing that, as Gandhi said, “Action expresses priorities.” Let’s be green and act green while picnicking!

Sandra Ann Harris is the founder and president of ECOlunchbox, a mission-based consumer products company. Her passion is protecting the oceans by reducing people’s dependence on plastics. The certified B Corporation and California Green Business innovates and sells high-quality, plastic-free food container solutions. She has a diverse background in business consulting, product development, investigative journalism, and digital marketing strategy along with her work in the non-profit sector for a humanitarian aid organization. She lives in the San Francisco Bay area with her family and recently authored the book Say Goodbye To Plastic: A Survival Guide to Plastic-Free Living.

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