Living in a city without even a scrape of outdoor space to call my own means that I have to be extra intentional about certain things like gardening, repainting furniture, and eating outdoors on beautiful days.
For the moment, my gardening ambitions are paused because trying to maintain a community plot during my busiest season is too much right now. To satisfy my furniture refinishing needs, I occasionally turn my living room into a painting studio (with all the windows open wide). And during the most beautiful days of the year, I pack a picnic and head for one of the many green spaces that dot Philadelphia.
I have always loved picnicking. I have many happy memories of meals eaten on beaches, in parks, and at battered tables at highway rest stops. The only problem I see with picnics is that sometimes we trade sustainability for convenience, packing disposables that we use just once before tossing them away.
In honor of Earth Day (April 22), Mighty Nest and I have teamed up to bring you some ideas for packing a more sustainable picnic (and we’re giving away a set of this fabulous gear as well. See the end of the post for more details).
The first thing to think about when you’re planning a picnic is, what’s the main event? Is the plan to keep things simple, with just sandwiches and some cut-up fruit? A few of these Bee’s Wrap sandwich wraps and a mason jar work just fine!
I often like to bring a grain salad with me on picnics for variety. These tight-sealing Lifefactory containers are a great option for toting all manner of salads, pickles, and carrot sticks. The silicone sleeves make them easy to handle and offer an added layer of protection from bumps and bangs, as well.
If you’re bring salads, you’ll need plates and forks. These stainless steel plates are indestructible and take up very little space in your picnic basket. On the utensil front, these bamboo RePEaT kits can’t be beat. They come with a fork, spoon, knife, and a pair of chopsticks for good measure. I keep at least one set in the car at all times because you just never know when you’ll want a spoon or fork handy. They also make a kids version that is scaled for small hands and mouths.
Once the meal is settled, the next question is, what we’re going to drink? Is it a hiking adventure where all we’ll want is water? If it’s an outdoor concert picnic, is wine permitted (screw tops are your friend on those nights)? Should we treat ourselves to a jug of homemade lemonade?
I’ll often pack small reusable water bottles for all picnickers, and then fill up the monster, 40 ounce Hydro Flask with some homemade iced green tea to share. Whatever the answer ends up being, having a large, insulated drink container and a few stainless steel cups to bring along is a very good idea.
The last question that arises in sustainable picnicking is how to tote your meal. A standard picnic basket is a good option if your meal is impervious to heat. However, if you want to keep things chilled, something with insulation is is the way to go. A standard cooler works well, but this soft-sided freezable bag is the best thing I’ve seen.
It folds down small so that you can keep it stashed in the freezer until you’re ready to go. Then you just unfold and pack, knowing that your lunch will stay fresh and cool for hours.
One issue that sometimes comes up with picnics that include reusable gear is what to do with the dirty dishes once you’re done eating. I like to bring a few clean dish towels (ones that already have stains are the best). I scrape our dishes off as best I can and then bundle them up in the towels before packing everything back up in our tote. Once I’m home, the dishes go in sink and the towels head for the laundry basket.
To enter the giveaway, use the widget above. You can enter until Monday, May 4. The prize includes the picnic tote, stainless steel plates and cups, the bamboo utensils, the Hydro Flask, and the Lifefactory containers you see pictured at the top of the post (valued at $150). Additionally, Mighty Nest will also donated $100 to a school of the winner’s choosing. The giveaway is open to US residents only and is void where prohibited.
I’m not the only blogger hosting a Mighty Nest Earth Day giveaway. Make sure to visit these other folks for even more chances to win!
- Nourished Kitchen – Seven Piece Stainless Steel Cookware by Chantal
- Momables – Glass and Stainless Food Storage Containers
- Rubies and Radishes – Chemex and Glass Coffee Service
Disclosure: Mighty Nest is a Food in Jars sponsor. They provided the gear you see pictured above for photography purposes at no cost to me and they are also providing the entirety of the prize for this giveaway. All opinions expressed here are my own.