9 Tips for a Green Picnic

Amy Liscomb/Flickr

Don't spend the next nice day inside: grab a blanket and head to the nearest park for a picnic. Here are some earth-friendly ideas to help you keep your outdoor gatherings fun and sustainable.

  • Pack plenty of local, in-season fruits and vegetables and organic meat for you and your guests. Remember, fresh fruit “wraps” itself – no additional packaging needed! Check out the National Farmers Market Directory for a market near you.
  • Consider re-purposing your canvas grocery tote as a picnic bag or try searching your closets for backpacks or holiday baskets to tote your food and picnic supplies.
  • Try to choose a picnic destination that’s easy to get to by biking, walking or using public transportation. Check out this state-by-state guide from American Trails to discover new hiking, biking and equestrian adventures that await you and your picnic basket.
  • Skip the individually packaged drinks and opt for coolers (or kegs) filled with your favorite party beverages. For food storage and leftovers, pack reusable tins and canisters.
  • Choose washable, reusable cloth napkins and tablecloths - check your closets again for old bandanas and bedsheets that you don’t mind getting dirty.
  • If reusable isn’t an option for cups, plates and utensils, choose biodegradable items or look for products made from recycled materials. 
  • Stick to sunscreen and insect repellents made with fewer chemicals and avoid spraying your entire picnic area with toxic pest products. For more on picking safe, eco-friendly sunscreens, check out our Sunscreen Green Tips.
  • Think green for your picnic activities and entertainment. Bring your favorite nature and wildlife field guides along with some binoculars and a journal for outdoor exploring. To get started, check out National Audubon Society’s online guide to birding basics.
  • Remember to take your waste with you. Leftover picnic food in trashcans is often tempting to park animals. Bring an extra storage container for food waste and a tote bag for recycling. Also, consider using your melted ice to rinse reusable dishes and utensils.