We’re continuing to celebrate all things plastic-free in aid of Plastic Free July - the Global Movement encouraging us all to reduce our plastic waste.
We've put together a guide to planning the perfect plastic-free picnic. Whether enjoyed in a park, in the middle of the countryside, by the sea, or even in a back garden, a picnic is an iconic British Summer activity, and a brilliant way to get the whole family spending time outdoors.
While alfresco dining is brilliant fun for children and adults, picnics can produce a lot of waste. From shop-bought sandwiches to single use cutlery, many picnic essentials get thrown in the bin when it’s time to go home. We’ve put together a handy list with our top 10 tips for going plastic-free on your next picnic.
1) Take reusable bottles for drinks
No picnic is complete without your favourite fruit juice, fizzy drink, or cocktail, and it can be hard to avoid buying these in plastic bottles. Our number 1 tip for a plastic-free picnic is taking reusable bottles for your drinks. We love Chilly’s stainless steel bottles which keep your cold drinks cold for 24 hours, although any reusable bottle will fit the bill. For fizzy drinks it can be particularly hard to avoid plastic, however most brands are available in glass bottles or cans, which are much better for the environment.
2) Take reusable food containers
When planning a plastic-free picnic it’s a good idea to make sure you have a good selection of food containers. Tupperware is absolutely essential for storing your sandwiches, pasta, salad, quiche, sausage rolls, and any other homemade food you may decide to take with you. If you don’t already have good quality Tupperware, we’d recommend these Lock ‘n’ Lock Eco Containers, made from recycled plastic. We also really love these reusable sandwich bags from Russbe, they’re dishwasher safe and a great alternative to disposable ones. For an alternative to cling film, beeswax wraps are ideal – they’re washable, reusable and breathable, and will mould to any shape that you need using the heat from your hands. We love beeswax food wraps which come in a huge range of sizes, colours and patterns.
3) Cook from scratch
A lot of our favourite picnic foods come heavily packaged in plastic, from sausage rolls to pork pies and coleslaw. A brilliant way to reduce waste and save money is to make your own food from scratch – make sandwiches at home, whip up a cold pasta salad, and even have a go at making your own hummus. Jamie Oliver has some fantastic picnic recipes, we love his Pork & Apple Sausage Rolls, Picnic Pie, and Jersey Royal Potato Salad.
4) Bring reusable cutlery, plates and glasses
An absolute must-have for a plastic-free picnic (or just picnics in general) is a set of re-usable plates, cutlery and glasses. Bamboo is the best choice for picnicware as it’s biodegradable – we love these bamboo plates and bamboo cups from Get Fresh Bamboo.
5) Decorate your picnic area with fabric bunting
If you’re celebrating a birthday, anniversary, or other special occasion, it’s a great idea to take some decorations with you to make your picnic really special. Fabric bunting is an attractive and eco-friendly alternative to balloons or plastic bunting, and it can be a really fun school holiday activity to make your own. Ideal Home have a great step-by-step guide to making bunting using fabric scraps, bias binding tape, pinking shears, and a needle and thread.
6) Ditch the wet wipes and use paper or fabric napkins
If you have little ones you’ll know that wet wipes are an essential for days out, particularly where food is involved, however it may surprise you that the majority of wipes contain plastic and can take over 100 years to biodegrade. There are a few biodegradable options on the market, such as Water Wipes, The Cheeky Panda Bamboo Baby Wipes, and Kit & Kin Baby Wipes, however the best option is to stock up on reusable wipes – such as these ones from Tots Bots, or fabric or paper napkins.
7) Take a plastic-free picnic blanket
Inexpensive picnic blankets are easy to come by, however a lot of them are produced with a PVC waterproof backing, which is great for damp grass, but not so great for the environment. We love this recycled picnic mat from Life Under Canvas which is durable, water and mould resistant. For drier days, this beautiful 100% cotton blanket from Nue is the perfect choice.
8) Ditch the carrier bags and bring an insulated picnic bag
If you plan on having more than one picnic this Summer, it’s definitely worth investing in a good quality picnic bag or basket. Make sure you choose one with an insulated lining, and stock up on ice packs to keep your food cool.
9) Get your cheese and meat from a fresh counter
A great way to avoid plastic packaging on your next picnic is to buy your meat and cheese from your supermarket deli, local butcher or bulk food store. Local delis sell cheese in slices and blocks without packaging, and while it may be slightly more expensive, it’s a brilliant way to cut back on waste and support a local business, and get a better quality cheese – perfect as a treat, especially if you’re a family of cheese lovers!
10) Take leftovers home with you and make compost
If there are any leftovers at the end of the picnic, make sure that you take them home with you. For food scraps like fruit rinds, you can add these to your compost heap at home, and make good quality compost that your garden will love. The RHS have a brilliant guide to composting if you need a little help getting started.
We hope we’ve inspired you to try out a plastic-free picnic this Summer. Remember to tag us @muddypuddlesuk if you take any photos of your little ones wearing their Muddy Puddles waterproofs – we love seeing what you get up to!