I remember those warm Spring, Summer, and even Autumn (I'm from the South) days spent taking a trip to the mountains for a picnic. And as much fun as I had playing in the creeks, huge fields, and chasing butterflies, as a kid, I didn't think much about the environmental impacts that picnicking often has. Now, I'm not about to tell people to stop picnicking (hello? hours of free entertainment for the kids, after which they'll want to sleep :).. ) and enjoying the natural beauty of the Earth, but I do think there are some tips you can use to make your family-outing abit more eco-chic!
- It’s all about the bag. Repurpose a reusable grocery store tote bag as a picnic bag or try an old-fashioned picnic basket.
- Grab the grub. Organic food is better for the earth and the environment. Also buy food that’s grown locally to save on gas and support local farmers.
- Pick your tools. Use recycled or recyclable picnic products. Consider biodegradable dishes and utensils made from natural and renewable resources, such as potato starch or a corn-based plastic. After use, these supplies can be composted. Cloth napkins made from organic cotton are the most environmentally friendly option for wiping your face, but a good second bet is paper napkins made of 100% recyclable paper.
- Location, location, location. Try picnic sites that you can get to by walking, hiking or taking public transportation. But if you must drive, carpool.
- Leave only footprints, take only photographs. Do not disturb the wildlife at your picnic site, or gather flowers and plants. Having lived so close to the Smoky Mountains for the entirety of my childhood, I can promise you that bear doesn't look nearly as cute when food comes into the equation. (Trying to get the kids on board with this plan? Teach them about this phrase and why it's important.)
- Bring reusable tins and canisters. It can take up to 1,000 years for a plastic sandwich bag to biodegrade in a landfill.
- Pack in, pack out. Bring back any empty cans and bottles for recycling; crush them down to maximize space.
- Avoid the use of Styrofoam whenever possible. It endangers wildlife and is not biodegradable.. we're talking an eternity of Styrofoam.
In the Pacific Northwest, the summer months are beautiful but short-lived. Make the most of that gorgeous weather while it's there. Let the kids get some fresh air and exercise. You could even use the time as a lesson in biology and/or environmentalism. Go and enjoy the great outdoors!