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Top Tips For A Plastic Free Picnic

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Top Tips For A Plastic Free Picnic

Eat & Drink

Picnics and barbecues might be our summer saviours but it's too easy for them to be full of pointless plastics. Here are our top tips to turn them plastic free.

Georgina Wilson-Powell

Tue 11 Aug 2020

With summer in full swing and with cafes and restaurants still shut, the future (for this year at least) is the humble picnic and barbecue.

But these wholesome activities can be a minefield of food waste and single use plastic, from buying ready made salads, dips and so on to using disposable cutlery.

So we’ve come up with some simple tips on how to have a plastic free picnic or barbecue, whether you’re at home, in the park or on the beach.

How to have a plastic free picnic or barbeque

Beeswax wraps

With summer in full swing and restaurants still closed, head to the garden with Pretty Bee Fresh’s beeswax wraps for the ultimate plastic free BBQ/picnic goals. Use them to wrap up your prepped fruit and veg, sandwiches, bowls or use as a bottle cork in the unlikely event you can’t finish your favourite drink. Plus you can wrap up any leftovers and take them home.

Try not to use tin foil, as it’s not often recyclable unless you clean it of food residue first.

Beeeswax wraps are antibacterial, biodegradable, reusable and come in a selection of beautiful patterns. There is also a London theme pack to send a loved one abroad who can’t visit this year.

Plus, use code 'PICNIC20' for an exclusive pebble 20% off at checkout!

Beeswax wrap full of raspberries

Beeswax wraps can be used to wrap up everything and anything at a picnic

Reusable plastic free bottles

Every plastic free picnic or barbeque needs a reusable water bottle.

Ohelo launched last year and they’re both ethically made and designed in the UK. More importantly, these pretty, engraved single use plastic free water bottles (BPA, BPS and BPF free) will keep your drink cold for 24 hours, even on the beach.

This also helps with having to buy in plastic bags of ice to keep drinks cold for your guests.

Each bottle also has a comfy strap and their gorgeous plastic free, cardboard tube packaging is recycled and recyclable.

If you’re hosting a picnic or barbecue, you could ask guests to bring their own reusable bottles or for people to bring their own crockery and cutlery instead of having to provide disposable (even if it’s paper).

line up of 3 colourful reusable water bottles

Ohelo's reusable water bottles will keep your drinks chilled for 24 hours

Sustainable straws

You don’t have to give up the straws for summer picnics and posh barbeques, not if you swap to a sustainable one. We’re loving Stroodles, the new pasta based straws.

They don’t bend or go soggy like paper and they are vegan friendly, edible (if you want) and biodegradable.

Once you think about it, a hollow pasta tube makes the perfect sustainable straw! Stroodles come in packs of 12, 20 or more, all delivered in plastic free packaging.

Paper bag of pasta straws

Stroodles are made of dried pasta and biodegrade easily

Firewood

Not all barbecues are equal and not all firewood is the same.

Last year, Kindwood launched to create a better way of enjoying a fire. They have created the most sustainable and eco-friendly kiln dried wood and kindling, meaning your barbecue won’t give off toxic fumes from cheap charcoal. From logs supplied from within an 80 mile radius of their base to using hessian sacks and reusable apple crates to deliver their wood in, they've created a service that really keeps things as low impact as possible.

Also swap to their sustainable natural firelighters, made from recycled vegetable oil and 100% waste wood. Now who’s got the plant based sausages?

hessian bags of Kindwood firewood

Kindwood have natural firelighters that will make your BBQ get going

Silicone ziplock bags

Sometimes you need a bag or two and these clever reusable silicone ones from plastic free store, Green Island, also stand up on their own, making them perfect for sauces and condiments as well as nuts, berries and anything else you don't want to get too squashed.

If you don't want to pack heavy glass jars then these make a great single use plastic free alternative.

These sand derived silicone pouches are leak proof and airtight to keep food fresh and ensure no spills in your tote bag on route to your picnic. You can send people home with leftovers in these quite happily.

silicone ziplock bags from Green Island

Nothing needs to be left behind with these clever ziplock reusable bags

Reusable cutlery

If you don’t want to take cutlery and crockery from home, then investing in bamboo or other reusable, travel cutlery to take with you is definitely worth doing.

We love this simple reusable cutlery set from Wearth London that comes in a handy travel case. It’s made from bamboo, which is naturally antibacterial, non-toxic and BPA free.

Bamboo cutlery from Wearth London

Wearth's bamboo cutlery sets are perfect for taking on a picnic

The barbecue

I know they’re convenient but they’re hugely wasteful, come covered in plastic, give off toxic fumes and can’t be recycled.

A recent study from Sheffield University has calculated that a typical summer barbecue gives off more CO2 than driving for 20 miles.

So not exactly the look we’re going for.

Either invest in a small portable reusable barbecue (like this one) or look at a more eco-friendly alternative like the biodegradable, one use EcoGrill, which is made of wood and charcoal.

Food waste

Picnics and barbecues are known for being heavy on the food waste as we panic over having enough food for everyone.

Planning ahead for your plastic free picnic or barbecue is essential in being able to fight the food waste but means you’ll have much more fun, than just eating the same burgers/sausages/hummus combo (just us back in the day?).

Anything you can make, rather than buy in single use plastic is a win, from coleslaw and hummus, sandwiches to sweet treats like these ace oat bars.

Transport your homemade delights in glass jars, tupperware, beeswax wraps - anything that can be used again or given away as doggie bags. Don’t be afraid to send people home with food, or ask if you can take leftovers home with you, there’s no judgement here!

Whizz up any fridge leftovers into dips for the picnic or barbecue the night before, which is also a great way to avoid buying in yet more snacks in single use plastic.

7 easy ways to reduce your food waste

Zero waste recipes for zero waste week

Dont' forget the leftovers to start your picnic menu planning

Go plant-based

Barbecues especially can be meat heavy affairs but there are so many finger lickin’ vegan and plant based dishes that work for alfredo eating.

Our meat and dairy consumption is one of our biggest individual contributions to climate change, so swapping out even small amounts of dairy and meat makes a difference.

There are some incredible plant based burgers and sausages now including from Heck! and Gosh as well as from a range of lab grown meat brands like Beyond Meat and Moving Mountains, if you’re craving the real meat taste.

Picnics can be a riot of colour and fruit and veggies with salads, cold fritters, tartines and sandwiches.

Recycle what you can

If you’re not at home, then remember to take enough bin bags and recycle what you can as you go along (plastic, glass, aluminium) and don’t leave anything behind.

If you are in your garden, provide different bins for guests to make it easy to recycle their beer bottles or drinks cans. That way you don’t have to sort it out later when you’re tired (or hungover!).

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