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Waste Reduction

Zero Waste Picnicking Tips & Recipes

Picnic season is here! Picnics often mean a lot of plastic-wrapped snacks in single-use, sliced portions on plastic trays and salads in single-serving plastic bowls or wrapping. The result is a mountain of garbage that needs to be dragged to the nearest trash can (hopefully not left there but taken! ).

You can keep them plastic-free with some planning and thought when you have time. Or, you can use some trash less techniques during a last-minute picnic.

Here are some tips for making picnics waste-free, including some easy and quick recipes.

How to plan a zero-waste picnic

You can prepare and homemaker most of the items for the picnic in advance. Pack or borrow reusable picnicware for your picnic.

  • Stock up on bulk snacks or make your own crackers and vegetable chips. (For example, slice thinly and sprinkle salt over the top, then pour oil and bake. (Or try a no-oil baked vegetable chip recipe).
  • Make your own spread, salad dressing, and/or hummus in a re-used jar
  • Buy bread, bagels, or rolls in a bag and slice them at home
  • You can get items such as olives, cold cuts, and cheese in their own containers (you can even get the cheese from a large block that is wrapped in beeswax).
  • Buy packaging-free produce and cut it into sticks and slices before packing.
  • Pre-make your lunch or a salad or platter to share with friends and family at home. Put it in a container or just a small bowl covered by a fabric or beeswax cover.
  • Rent reusable picnic crockery (like the party kit network), or bring your own reusable plates, cups, napkins and cutlery.

Pulling off a last-minute, plastic-free picnic

The weather is suddenly sunny, and it has been suggested that we meet at the park within an hour. How can you avoid buying plastic-wrapped picnic picks from the supermarket or eating at a drive-through that leaves a lot of trash?

  • You can also check your pantry, fruit bowl, and food plants to see if you have any leftovers.
  • Make some bliss balls in a flash (no need to cook; simply mix together oats and seeds, dates, honey, nut butter or syrup, and nuts).
  • Popcorn is a great snack to bring with you.
  • If you don’t have them already throw your reusables into your backpack – water bottles, cups, containers, napkins, and cutlery. Our Black+Blum sandwich box container works well for spontaneous picnics, as the lid doubles as a cutting board. However, most container lids can be used to make plates.
  • Bulk bins are on their way
  • Grab some fruit or produce that is not packaged
  • Grab some bagels, rolls, or bread in a plastic bag and a glass jar of spread to put on top.
  • Takeaway that is trashless in your container
  • Choose a drink or smoothie that is available in a reusable cup.


You’re looking for an easy recipe for homemade dips and snacks that you can make yourself and enjoy with friends while relaxing on a picnic rug? Here are some simple recipes and ideas for sharing snacks and dips to make your outdoor event home-cooked and free of single-use packaging.

  • easy baked vegetable chips (oil-free)
  • Easy homemade plain crackers
  • By cutting the bread thinly and brushing it with oil, you can turn it into crostinis. You can also add any herbs or seasonings that you like.
  • Hummus (find out our favorite recipe here) paired with carrots and celery.
  • Falafels: (if you have the homemade dried falafel mixture, you can use it to quickly make falafels at any time. You can buy this mix in some bulk food stores).
  • flatbreadlavash (you only need water, salt and flour)
  • Pesto (the carrot pesto recipe that we use here) or dip (some easy vegan dip recipes (here) and (here).
  • Salad dressings are easy to make – just throw the ingredients in a jar, shake and enjoy! From a simple combination of olive oil, salt, and balsamic to a creamy, cheesy dressing with tahini and nutritional yeast or a dressing with balsamic vinegar, cinnamon, cumin, and coriander, depending on your salad.
  • Popcorn with your favorite toppings made using kernels and spices/toppings purchased from bulk food stores
  • recipes for bliss balls and variations, you can use anything in your pantry or fridge

What are some tips to make a trip trash-free in order to sit on grass at the park? Have you got a favorite zero-waste recipe for a picnic, lunch or dessert?

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Jane S. King

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