Sustainable living

How to have a zero-waste picnic

Make your next outdoor gathering a greener one. Here are 6 easy steps to get you started.

Sustainable family picnic

Sydney has some of the best picnic spots around. With restrictions easing, there’s no better time to visit our world-class parks and open spaces.

Make your next picnic an environmentally kind one. Here are 6 steps you can take to have a greener, zero-waste picnic:

  1. Avoid food waste and coordinate who’s bringing what with friends ahead of time – although you can never have enough cheese and chocolate. Encourage friends to bring package-free picnic fare, like fruit, or see what you can pick up at your local bulk food store. Bring reusable icepacks to keep food chilled and pop food back into an esky if it’s sitting in the sun and not being eaten – saving it for another day!
  2. Leave no trace: our beautiful parks and open spaces are for everyone to enjoy, so leave it free of waste and litter. Bring along 3 bags: one to take home recycling (most parks don’t have recycling bins), one to put your dirty plates, cutlery and cups in for washing, and another for rubbish.
  3. If you’re buying food from your favourite local cafe or having your picnic catered with a pre-made picnic box, ask the server not to include utensils or napkins. If your food comes in certified compostable packaging, take the packaging home to put in your compost or food scraps bins. If you don’t have one of these, compostable packaging needs to go in the landfill bin at the park or the red lid bin at home – never in the yellow lid bin. Look for the word compostable and the certified compostable seedling logo on your items to be sure.
  4. Say no to single-use items and BYO reusables including lightweight plates, cutlery, cups and cloth napkins – use what you have at home. Take a reusable container to package up any picnic leftovers. Consider hosting a plastic-free picnic to raise money for Plastic Oceans Australasia this spring.
  5. Have a go at homemade: sandwiches, biscuits, baked goods. The effort is sure to impress your mates and has the added benefit of no pesky packaging. Avoid the cling wrap or foil and transport your goodies in reusable containers and beeswax wraps.
  6. If you can, why not walk or ride to your favourite picnic spot – depending on your mode of transport, use a backpack, wheelie trolley or bicycle basket to easily transport all your goodies.

Published 29 September 2021