How to Picnic without the Plastic.
It’s picnic season. Especially since some of our favourite States have eased the lockdown and are venturing out.
As Spring settles in, we are have collectively dusted off the picnic basket, unpacked the picnic set and packed the Pelli Picnic Bag full to the brim.
But, how do we do picnics without the plastic? And, how do we leave our parks and beaches the way we found them? Or, even better, with even less waste than before. Some would say Covid has a lot to answer for, not just our freedom but also the extraordinary amount of waste. We are churning through 3 million non-reusable facemasks every minute – that’s 129 billion per month. So, our first sustainable picnic tip is;
Pack your Reusable Face Masks.
For starters, they are more comfy, prettier and if you have chosen a natural material (100% cotton, linen or hemp) plastic free. The therapeutic masks you find at airports and hospitals, unfortunately are made from polymers such as polypropylene, polyurethane, polyacrylonitrile, polystyrene, polycarbonate, polyethylene, or polyester (yep, plastic). We don’t want any more of those pesky non-reusable masks ending up in landfill, or worse, so pack your favourite facemask and head outdoors when you can.
Visit your local Bulk Food Store.
We all have one, and if you haven’t checked out your local bulk food or loose produce store yet. Picnic Season is the time to start this healthy habit. Bulk food stores tend to stock much more locally sourced, and ‘in-season’ produce than the big supermarkets. They are often locally owned and run, by passionate eco-loving individuals and families, and they are super conscious about waste. Personally, I love the scoop and pour ritual of filling up my cloth reusable produce bags with my picnic favourites - nuts, seeds, fruit and veg, and many even have a salad bar, so you can fill up your stainless steel bento boxes with pre-made salads without the plastic container. Many take away do use bio-plastics, but recent research has shown the toxicity levels of bioplastics to be the same or higher than that of regular plastics – yikes. We prefer high-grade stainless steel (304 or 316) which is stable and non-toxic, or glass.
Fill up your Water Bottles.
We recommend stainless steel water bottles for your outdoor adventure (less breakable) and even BPA free plastic can leach some chemicals, particularly when left in the hot sun. If you are still feeling Covid conscious, pack an individual bottle for each picnic goer and label with their name to keep the picnic safe. We love a bit of fruit in our water! Add a couple of slices of lemon, some frozen berries, that also help to keep your water cool, or even some cucumber or some herbs from your garden. Really, whatever you have around, or that is ripe in your veggie garden. It adds a hit of flavour, and increases the nutrient content of your water bottle, with very little extra work.
Wine and Beer? No Fear.
The stats are in, and the results are clear. Yes, we have all been drinking a little more than we used to, due to the Covid Lockdowns. But let’s not feel too bag about this, tension is high, the kids are loud and the at-home juggle is real. So, how can we do our favourite summer spritz and stay sustainable?
Your locally owned and run bottle-o is a good place to start. They have the knowledge and are usually happy to help. Ask for local producers. Our local stocks a delightful range of locally produced wine and beer, and they know their stuff. You know you will always get the best match for your picnic produce. Find a bottleshop that supports sustainable here.
A great way to reduce your picnic footprint is to opt for an organic or biodynamic wine. Usually, these wines are made in smaller batches in a rotation style of farming to reduce the impact on land. They, of course, use no chemical pesticides and use techniques to regenerate the soil and invest back in the land to ensure it is sustainable for future crops.
We also love a good online ordering option. We heart Naked Wines. Naked wines who support local growers around the country to get the lesser known wines and sparkling out to their discerning audience. They ship their wines within days from local warehouses in each State, meaning less travel, and they offer a great range of organic and biodynamic wines.
When choosing beer – plastic free is clear. When you are choosing beer, do a little bit of research to ensure that they are using sustainable practices, and that they don’t use plastic packaging – like the plastic 6 beer can holders or even shrink wrap. Whilst these have improved greatly from a few years back, they are still an unnecessary and very temporary packaging measure that can be done without. The great news is, most beer packaging is recyclable through the ‘containers for change’ programs in each state. And the big Australian producers CUB, Coopers and Lion have committed to more sustainable practices in 2021. Find our more at https://www.brewers.org.au/beer-the-facts/sustainable-beer-production/
Even following your trip to the bulk food store and your local bottle-o, some food packaging may be required. Many gourmet products use plastic packaging to keep their goods fresh. Most parks and beaches have separate recycling bins, but if yours doesn’t, bring the rubbish home with you, and wash, divide and conquer back at home.
Make sure you bring home your soft plastics too. Many believe mistakenly, that soft plastics can’t be recycled, but this isn’t the case. These can be dropped off at your local redcycle depot (usually held at your local supermarket).
According to our friends over at OzHarvest, food waste is 6 times more harmful to our environment than plastic waste? Plus, wasted food, means more wasted plastic packaging and more cost.
Our tips for Reducing Food Waste.
What’s App your mates and coordinate your Picnic menu.
No-one ever wants to be the picnic party pooper by not bringing enough picnic food, and we all want to impress our picnic peeps with the latest ‘Ottelengi’ inspired gourmet salad. And, inevitably, we all end up overpacking the picnic bag.
We recommend, starting a group chat, and bring just what you need, and let everyone shine, without being over dined.
Last Night’s Leftovers.
Last nights leftovers make the best picnic food. Reduce your prep time and your food waste, by turning last nights roast into a roast veggie salad or tasty wrap. If you still have leftovers – visit OzHarvest for more handy food waste tips.
Take home what you bring.
It’s always tempting to leave the picnic leftovers for the local wildlife. But, much of our processed food, even nuts and seeds is very bad for the local bird and marine life, so be sure to take home your leftovers and pop into your FOGO or home compost.
Choose your Picnic Basket or Picnic Set Wisely.
When choosing your picnic basket, picnic set or picnic bag – be sure to choose sustainable.
It’s probably not to hard to see that we love Stainless steel, bamboo and natural fabrics for our picnic sets. We try to avoid plastics wherever possible, which can also leach chemicals into your picnic food.
Are Bamboo Plastics good or bad?
Processed bamboo fibre products (sometimes called bamboo plastic) are very highly processed, and the production process isn’t sustainable, and the products are only sometimes compostable, and don’t compost efficiently. The jury is out on whether these leach chemicals when heated or served with acidic food and are often (but not always) bonded by plastics.
So, wherever possible, we don’t recommend bamboo plastics as an alternative for your picnic set.
If the insulated picnic bag isn’t quite your vibe, we love a traditional sea grass, bamboo or rattan picnic baskets. Choose a high-quality, long-lasting option where possible.
We love bamboo cutlery which has the advantage of being very lightweight and still strong and usable. While stainless steel cutlery is a bit heavier, but unmatchable in terms of durability.
Picnic Drink Ware.
For your picnic drinkware, we prefer stainless steel cups for all the eco reasons. Our stainless steel tumblers are double-walled for efficient insulation for our warmer than warm Summers. An icey drink on a hot Summer's day is simply and Aussie tradition.
Picnic Plates and Bowls.
We love bamboo or stainless steel for plate ware and salad bowls. Both are lightweight, just make sure bamboo is washed soon after use and air dried before putting back in your basket or Picnic Bag.
Bamboo isn't the best option for food storage in the fridge as the bamboo can weaken in damp environments, so store leftovers overs in fridge friendly containers when you get home.
Whilst some of the new paper plates are recycled, they are often still wrapped in plastic and can only be used once, so we recommend investing in something that can last for many picnics to come.
Want to see more? Check out our full range of Picnic Sets.