Zero Waste Picnicking: Tips for Your Picnic Basket
It’s picnic season! Picnics can equal loads of single-use plastic wrapped snacks, conveniently sliced portions in plastic trays, and single-serving salads and sandwiches in plastic bowls or wrap.
This leads to a pile of trash to trek to the nearest bin (hopefully taken to the nearest bin and not just left there!).
With a bit of prior thought and planning when you have the time, or pulling out a few trashless tricks when it’s a last-minute picnic, they can be kept pretty plastic free.
Read on for some inspo for keeping picnics as zero waste as possible, as well as some quick and easy recipes for homemade waste-free picnic eats.
HOW TO PLAN A ZERO WASTE PICNIC
When you have time to plan, you can homemake and prepare most things for the picnic at home beforehand and pack in or borrow reusable picnic wares for the picnicking party.
stock up on snacks from bulk bins or homemake your own vegetable chips (basically slice thinly, pour oil over, sprinkle with salt and bake (or try this no oil baked vegetable chips recipe) and crackers (easy homemade plain crackers recipe here), for example
- make your own dip, spread, salad dressing, and/or some hummus put it in a reused jar
- buy bread, bagels or rolls in a bread bag and slice at home
- get deli items like olives, cold meats and cheese in your own container (you can also get cheese cut from a big block wrapped straight in a beeswax wrap)
- buy packaging free produce and cut up into slices and sticks before packing in
- pre-make your lunch and/or a platter or salad to share at home and put in a container or just a bowl covered with a beeswax wrap or fabric cover
- pack in reusable cups, plates, napkins, and cutlery from home for yourself or everyone (you can use your usual crockery or buy lightweight picnic plates secondhand to use, and you can reuse glass jars for cups), or rent reusable picnic crockery for the entire picnicking party (like from the Party Kit Network)
PULLING OFF A LAST MINUTE PLASTIC-FREE PICNIC
The weather has suddenly become beautifully sunny and a meet-up at the local park in an hour has been suggested. How can you avoid the convenient plastic packaged picnic picks at the supermarket and a drive-thru lunch that comes with lots of litter?
- Check the fridge for leftovers and the pantry, fruit bowl, and your food plants for any available snacks
- Quickly whip up some bliss balls (no cook, simply smoosh together or blitz oats, seeds, nuts, dates, syrup or honey and nut butter, or whatever of these you have on hand)
- Make some popcorn to take with you
- Throw your reusables in your backpack (if they aren’t already in there) - water bottle, cup, container, napkin and cutlery
- Hit the bulk bins on the way
- Pick up some unpackaged fruit and/or produce
- Get some bagels or rolls in a breadbag and a spread in a glass jar to put on them
- Get some trashless takeaway in your own container to take
- Get a coffee in your reusable coffee cup or a smoothie or other drink in a reusable cup (or choose a drink that comes in a glass bottle)
LIST OF EASY SHARED SNACK & FINGER FOOD RECIPES
Looking for a quick and easy recipes for homemade snacks and dips you can whip up yourself and share with others while lounging on a picnic blanket? Here’s some easy shared snacks and dips ideas and recipes you can make to make your outdoor gathering home cooked and single-use packaging free:
- easy baked vegetable chips (oil-free)
- easy homemade plain crackers
- turn bread into crostinis by cutting thinly, brushing with oil, salting, adding any other herbs/seasoning you want and baking
- hummus (find our fav recipe here) paired with cut carrots and celery
- falafels (use bulk bought chickpeas instead of a can in this DIY falafels recipe if you can or have this homemade dried falafel mix in your pantry ready for quickly whipping up falafels anytime - you can also buy this at some bulk food stores)
- homemade flatbread/quick and easy lavash (all you need is water, salt, flour, and olive oil)
- dip or pesto
- salad dressings - simply chuck the ingredients into a reused glass jar and shake! - from a simple olive oil, balsamic and salt combination to a creamy cheesy tahini, lemon and nutritional yeast dressing option or a balsamic, cinnamon, cumin and coriander dressing (two we love and make often), depending on the salad
- popcorn with toppings of your choice made from kernels and spices/toppings bought from a bulk food store
- bliss ball recipes and variations so you can use whatever is in your pantry and fridge
Source: Reusable Nation