Spring has well and truly spring here in Australia, and with the warmer weather comes a flurry of people heading to their local park for a sunny weekend picnic.
TIP 1: Plastic free snacks
The most important part of a picnic is the food (the company is great too, of course, but we all know that the gourmet sandwiches are where it's at).
Rather than throwing the good old packets of crackers and chips into your picnic basket, why not mix it up with snacks that don't come in a plastic packet? Carrot and celery sticks go down a treat, and you can even try making your own hummus dip from canned chickpeas and a few other natural ingredients - see here for a great hummus recipe.
If crackers are more your thing, you can try your hand at making your own crackers from items purchased at a bulk food store - see here for a great five seed cracker recipe.
Image Source: One Green Planet
TIP 2: Source your goodies from Australian producers
One way to cut down on carbon emissions is to support locally grown produce, rather than imported produce which is required to be flown into Australia by plane. Get everyone on board the sustainability train by setting an 'Australian made gourmet' theme for your picnic. Any fruit and veggies can be sourced from a local farmer's market, if possible. Encourage friends to buy any cheeses or meats that have been produced by Australian cheesemakers and meat providores, rather than imported from overseas.
If your picnic involves alcohol, try to opt for Australian-made wines. There are some beautiful Australian semillon and rose varieties around which are perfect for drinking at this time of year! For those who are taking a break from alcohol and would usually opt for a soft drink, try bringing a bottle of pre-fizzed flavoured water from your Sodastream (if you have one), rather than purchasing a disposable bottle of cola or mineral water.
TIP 3: Swap cling wrap for beeswax wraps and food covers
When preparing your picnic-perfect feast, avoid using cling wrap to cover your sandwiches, rolls and snacks, and instead use some reusable beeswax wraps!
Beeswax wraps are a fantastic alternative to single-use plastic food storage options such as cling wrap. Rather than being used once and then thrown away, beeswax wraps can be used again and again. Once your wrap has reached the end of its life (each wrap lasts about a year) you can simply dig a hole in your backyard and bury it. Unlike plastic it is a bio-degradable product and will return to the Earth without a trace.
Bee Green Wraps have an awesome starter pack of beeswax wraps which contains four wraps in different sizes - small, medium, large & extra large, which means you'll be sorted for all of the different bits and bobs in your picnic basket. Shop the Bee Green Wraps range here.
Reusable food covers are another great plastic-free solution for all picnic-related situations, and are ideal for covering over bowls, platters or plates to keep away from bugs and the weather while on a picnic. They can also be used to cover over the end of a block of cheese or a piece of fruit, to retain freshness. Shop reusable food covers here.
TIP 4: BYO Reusables
We've all seen the waste that picnics can create once they're over, with plastic plates, cutlery and cups all to often filling up the parkside bins, and disposable serviettes blowing across the grass. This contributes to our landfill problem massively and is not okay. Rather than going disposable, why don't you try bringing your own reusables from home? Most picnic sets come with a stack of reusable plates, wine glasses and cutlery. If you don't have a picnic set, you can bring reusable plates, cutlery and cups from home, or buy your own reusables quite cheaply.
Rather than bringing disposable napkins, linen napkins are a great solution and can be easily thrown in the washing machine when you return home, ready to be used again and again.
If you're not sold on bringing reusables, there are some disposable options that are slightly better. Biopak have a range of sugarcane plates and bowls which are certified home compostable and carbon neutral. However, it's worth remembering that if you use this option, you need to make sure you actually have the ability to compost the items at home, otherwise they will be added to landfill just like plastic plates.
- Reusable Straws (Steel, Silicone or Bamboo): The Simple Sustainable Store
- Reusable Plates, Bowls and Cups: Way & Farer
- Portable Reusable Cutlery Sets: The Simple Sustainable Store
- Linen Napkins: I Love Linen
- Sugarcane Plates and Bowls: Biopak
TIP 5: Consider your mode of transport
If you're lucky enough to live within walking distance of a park, consider walking there rather than driving over, to save on carbon emissions (and burn off all the cheese you're about to eat at the same time!). If you can't walk there, consider whether it would be possible to take public transport or carpool to your location.
Happy picnic-ing, everyone :)