Picnics are a perfect example of how many of us would prefer to spend our leisure time. Picnics are often idealized with red and white checkered blankets, wicker baskets and familiar comfort foods like potato salad. Though you probably consider picnics to be a pretty eco-friendly activity, there are many harmful aspects that can out-weigh the good. EnviroCitizen.org wants to let you know that there are many easy ways to make your picnic eco-friendly.
Start with the blanket. Ideally, eco-friendly blankets are sustainably made from organic cotton. They are also usually dyed with eco-friendly, natural dyes. If you can find a locally made, eco-friendly blanket, that is the best of both worlds! It can still have the iconic red and white checkers, but make sure that it is as environmentally-friendly as possible.
Next, think about your basket. There are several companies that are improving the lives of women in many parts of Africa by having them participate in a sort of micro-business endeavor, where the women make beautiful, handcrafted baskets that are then sold at a sustainable price (meaning that the women are paid a fair, living wage). These baskets are absolutely stunning and are pretty eco-friendly, minus the miles that they traveled to get from Africa to you. If you really want an eco-friendly picnic basket, you can choose to offset the travel with carbon credits. You could also use a simple, reusable grocery bag to carry your picnic goods. It’s not as iconic and nostalgic as a wicker basket, but it’s definitely eco-friendly; especially if it was made from organic cotton or hemp.
Finally, you need to think about what you put into the basket. This is probably the most important step, since food miles rack up quickly. That familiar potato salad found at so many picnics isn’t the best choice. For starters, it’s not that great for you. More importantly, it’s not that great for the environment, either. Unless the potatoes are organic, the potato salad will contain chemical pesticides, herbicides and fertilizers. Once grown, the potatoes will be shipped a few hundred (or thousand) miles, which increases their carbon footprint (and yours if you buy them). Then, the potato salad is filled with ingredients that were genetically engineered and created in labs. Instead, EnviroCitizen.org suggests that you consider buying local, organic produce. Take advantage of your local farmer’s market and stock up on local cheeses and meats. Locally made bread that’s also organic is relatively easy to find. If you really want to indulge a bit on your eco-friendly picnic, top it all off with a bottle of locally made, organic wine (vineyards are popping up all over the place) and an eco-friendly dessert (like homemade rhubarb pie with fresh rhubarb from your garden).
EnviroCitizen.org has found that creating an eco-friendly picnic is very easy and can be just as fun. Like many eco-friendly lifestyle choices, eco-friendly picnics are all about being conscious consumers and picking the best options to make our daily activities as eco-friendly as possible.