Eat 5 Picnic Ideas for a No-Waste Summer Outing

Published on June 25th, 2014 | by Becky Striepe

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5 Picnic Ideas for a No-Waste Summer Outing

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5 Picnic Ideas for a No-Waste Summer Outing

Got a picnic in the park in the works? Check out these great picnic ideas to make your lunch in the sun waste free!

I love a picnic! There’s something about eating food outdoors that makes it taste extra delicious. What I don’t love about picnicking is the potential for waste. Paper or Strofoam plates. Plastic utensils. Paper napkins. Boo!

Related Reading: 3 Ways to Make Your Own Cold Brew Coffee This Summer, Frozen Summer Treats

Do you love a picnic but hate the trash it can generate? Cadry Nelson at our sister site Feelgood Style shared a great selection of reusable picnic ideas to make your next park day trash free. Check out her reusable picnic ideas below!

Favorite Reusable Products for Picnic Season

by Cadry Nelson, Feelgood Style

As we come into picnic season, now is the time when people start gathering paper plates, paper napkins, paper towels, and packs of plastic straws and flatware for summertime get togethers. Why not minimize waste, save some trees, and save money by not buying products that are immediately thrown in the trash?  Instead, put together a picnic basket with reusable necessities that you can enjoy year after year!

1. Reusable Plates & Silverware

Instead of buying packs of paper plates and sporks, check your local thrift store for picnic ideas before your next gathering. Buy a stack of vintage Melmac or stainless steel plates and inexpensive silverware that can be reused all summer long and for years to come.  It’s so much easier to eat from sturdy plates without the risk of them blowing away in the breeze, and it’s simpler to pierce that potato salad with a real fork.

2. Glass water bottles

I love the water bottles from Lifefactory. They are made of glass, and so the worrisome BPA issue with plastic is moot. The rubber casing helps with the hand-grip and keeps the bottles from breaking. Several different tops are available depending on your needs – including a flip-top sports top and twist off top with handle that’s great for hiking explorations.

3. Cloth Napkins

There’s no reason to save cloth napkins for elegant dinner parties and holidays. I use cloth napkins every day.  My napkin drawer is full of napkins of varying colors and fabrics. Throw a bunch in your picnic basket in different colors for your next outdoor potluck. Family members who aren’t overly messy can remember their color and use the same napkin all day long.

Oftentimes, one can find brand new, never used cloth napkins at thrift stores or garage sales. There are also a variety of handmade artists, like Dot and Army, who make them in all kinds of adorable patterns. Feel like a project? It’s not hard to make your own if you are “sew inclined!”

4. Glass or stainless steel containers

To pack up your bowl of baked beans and coleslaw, glass or stainless steel containers are tremendously useful. My favorite glass containers are from Pyrex. They can neatly stack in a cooler, and if your summer plans include road trips, they’re also handy for use as cereal bowls in a pinch. Pyrex containers can be used in the freezer, microwave, refrigerator, or oven, and they’re made in the USA. Stainless steel containers are also a good picnic idea since they are lighter; although, they can’t be used in the microwave.

5. Glass straws

Instead of throwing away plastic straws with every glass of lemonade, a sturdy glass straw can be rinsed and washed by hand or cleaned in the dishwasher.  I’m particularly fond of straws by Strawesome, which are handmade in varying colors and designs.  They’re picnic ideas that one gets to use everyday.  Like cloth napkins, each guest can pick a straw and use it all day long.  It’s also a good way to differentiate between glasses if lots of people are drinking the same thing.

What are your favorite reusable products?

Image Credit: Photo by Cadry Nelson 



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About the Author

My name is Becky Striepe (rhymes with “sleepy”), and I am a crafts and food writer from Atlanta, Georgia with a passion for making our planet a healthier, happier, and more compassionate place to live. My mission is to make vegan food and crafts accessible to everyone!. If you like my work, you can also find me on Twitter, Facebook, and .



  • Lisa

    I’m on the look out for a vintage picnic basket, I’d love to start having picnics, even if just in my backyard. These are some great products to put in your picnic basket!

    • Becky Striepe

      Ooh that is a good one! I inherited one from Dave’s grandma that I love and actually saw the exact same picnic basket at the Habitat Restore recently, of all places!

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