One of my resolutions for this year has been to tip the balance of our household waste away from single-use containers. Last year, our ratio looked something like this: 60 percent trash and 40 percent poorly sorted recycling. Now, over the course of four months, and with some key lifestyle changes (like keeping our compost in the freezer), our ratio is moving in the right direction: 60 percent compost, 30 percent recycling, and just 10 percent trash.
Then, the other weekend, a freakishly sunny Saturday was cause for an impromptu picnic with friends. On the way to the park, we picked up some pre-made things—fruit, bread, the usual picnic fare—but as the sun went down and we were packing up to head home, we realized we had created three bags full of plastic waste. What a shame! In an afternoon’s time the balance tipped back. This set me off on the hunt for reusable picnic gear, for a designated set to bring to a picnic, the beach, and on camping trips. (Unintended bonus: the reusable stuff photographs so much better—if you’re into that sort of thing.) Here’s our list to sort through before the real good weather sets in:
Food Containers Above: The Rosti Mepal Storage Box comes in white (shown), black, and soft pastel colors. It has a transparent cover and is dishwasher, microwave, and even oven-safe; €7 at Merci. They’re also available stateside at Food52, sold in sets of four for $60 or $70 depending on size. Above: My personal favorite to-go containers are from Onyx, including the Divided Airtight Food Storage Container seen here. It’s made from stainless steel and is airtight (no spills); $30 at Goop. There is also the 14cm container for $18 and the 16cm container for $20 also at Goop. Above: A 3 Pack of Stainless Steel Mini Food Containers is good for storing small snacks (like olives) and keeping salad dressing separate and contained; $18.95 at Package Free Shop. Above: The silicone alternative to plastic bags, the Stasher Reusable Sandwich Bag works especially well for picnics because when the snack within has been consumed, you only have a lightweight silicone pouch to pack away (as opposed to a clunky tin); $12 at Goop. It’s also available at Amazon for $11.99. Dinnerware Above: A longtime favorite for durable outdoor dinnerware, the Falcon Enamelware Tumbler comes in 11 different colors (shown in Sage) for $10 each. We also like the newer Enamel Cup from HAY (not pictured) that comes in four colors for $15 each. Above: From the Alfresco Collection by Kinto the Bamboo Melamine Glass in Black is made from a blend of both materials (it’s not compostable, it’s reusable); €6 each at Merci. Above: The White Bamboo Plate is made from a bamboo and melamine blend but looks like a typical paper plate; €7.50 each at Merci. Above: The great thing about the Falcon Enamelware Deep Plates are that they work for just about any type of food (summer gazpacho, salad, or pie); $70 for a set of 4 at Falcon Enamelware. Flatware and Tools Above: The Snow Peak Titanium Full Cutlery Set comes in a compact canvas case; $34.95 per set at Snow Peak. Above: The Bamboo and Melamine Fork and Spoon from Kinto are €4 each at Merci. Above: For sipping cool drinks in the sun, Stainless Steel Straws to the rescue. This set from Schoolhouse comes with a bristle brush for easy cleaning; $14 for four at Schoolhouse. Above: It’s always a little scary packing a knife to go but if you have any charcuterie involved in your picnic (or an apple or anything that requires more force than a butter knife), it’s an essential. I have the Snow Peak Cutting Board Set Medium. It’s perfect because the knife stows away in the cutting board itself; $39.95 at Snow Peak. Above: Keeping food chilled on the way to the park is always tricky. But if you pair the reusable, plastic-free Onyx Stainless Steel Ice Pack ($19.99 at The Wild Minimalist) with an insulated cooler bag, your food should make the journey melt-free. Linens Above: We’re longtime fans of the Ambatalia Linen Bento Bags. You can wrap up fruit, vegetables, nuts, bread, or crackers and tying it with a knot at the top keeps everything more secure than you might a linen sac could; $24 for the large bags at Ambatalia. (Photograph from Quitokeeto.) Above: Paper towels are crucial at a picnic (there’s always a spill of some kind) but the single-use nature and often-bleached, non-recycled material doesn’t earn them a spot on our list. What does however, is the My Drap Roll of 11cm Tear-off Napkins. It’s a roll of 50 napkins that can be washed up to six times and are biodegradable (just remember to compost them) at the end of their life cycle; €15.90 at Merci. We also like the Un-Paper Towels that are $16 for 6 at Package Free Shop. Above: Every picnic needs a baguette, and while you could wrap yours in a cloth, the Aplat Baguette Tote is pretty appealing—and can carry up to three baguettes; $50 at Aplat. Another option for a bread bag are those made by Dans Le Sac. Above: Once you get hooked on Bee’s Wrap you’ll never turn to a plastic baggie again. The Beeswax Food Wraps are good for covering bowls, wrapping veggies and greens and just about any food item. They’re also great to bring a couple unused wraps to the picnic for taking home anything half-eaten; $18 for a variety pack at Zero Waste Store.
Looking for more ideas on zero waste living? See our posts including posts on Remodelista and The Organized Home:
For something to keep your picnic kit in see: