Hip hip hooray for the warm, sunny haze after months of cold, wintery weather! Perfect time for a picnic, or at least some al-fresco snacking to sit and enjoy the rays. Re-usable plates, re-usable cutlery, a rug and a kitsch basket or bag to look the part… all set to hit the shops for picnic supplies!
Strawberries, blueberries, raspberries… oh wait, unless you grow your own, these all come in plastic packaging. Balls. And while the punnets may be recyclable, the films are not. Perfect choice for the summer weather, but not good for reducing single-use plastic.
And CRISPS, oh my, how to picnic without crisps? In fact, how to survive at all without crisps? Crisp packets are completely un-recyclable and un-biodegradable plastic. A recent article in the Independent showed how a Walkers crisp packet from 30 years ago was found last month washed up on a beach, still completely intact. So every single crisp packet we use, is sticking around forever. Somewhere. Even the pesky Pringles cans are said to be tricky to recycle.
Oh dear, and cheese. Another favourite food barely available without un-recyclable plastic wrap. However, I did find a brie wrapped in paper, and some posh cheeses beyond my budget wrapped in paper. Will have to keep working on finding a solution to the cheese. But the brie will do for now.
After some careful consideration, and a snoop around the shops, here are my new favourite unplasticky picnic items:
Replace the plastic laden soft fruit with a whole watermelon chopped up before you go into easy-to-eat wedges. Or chop a mango. Or a melon. Or a pineapple. Or kiwis (bought loose). Or any other type of summery fruit that can be bought without a plastic jacket on. Bring them in your own containers.
Yes, it requires a few minutes of pre-chopping, but on the grand scheme of things, totally manageable and literally a few minutes, versus hundreds of years of mummified plastic waste.
Bananas, apples, avocados and oranges. No prep required.
Simple swap 1 – fresh bread bought in paper bag, or home-made in the bread maker, or home made by a bread genius, instead of bread in a plastic bag.
Simple swap 2 – block of butter in foiled paper (as you buy it in the shops) as opposed to spreadable stuff in a plastic tub. Leave it out for a bit while you get other stuff prepared, and it will be soft enough to spread nicely on your fresh bread for sandwiches. Or use olive oil from a glass bottle if you don’t eat butter.
Simple swap 3 – use fillings like jam from a glass jar, honey from a glass jar, meat from the deli counter (bring your own container and make sure they don’t use a plastic throw-away sheet to pick the meat up with). Yum.
Simple swap 4 – instead of wrapping in cling film, a reusable box does nicely. Or coming into vogue are the beeswax wraps that you can either buy, or make yourself. We have just been using old food container boxes, but the wraps do look pretty cool.
Ta-da… plastic free sandwiches. Minimal extra effort.
Glass jars of picnicky nibbly bits – pickled onions, olives, sun-dried tomatoes. Adds a nice touch, no plastic required.
Salad is a tricky one, because I’ve noticed that unless you can get to a local market, you can’t even buy a whole lettuce without it wrapped in plastic, nor is it possible to buy a naked cucumber.
But you can buy loose carrots (peel and chop them into sticks) and loose tomatoes (might need cutting into chunks if they’re big ones – the cherry ones always seem to be hiding behind an un-recyclable film).
Hard boiled eggs. No plastic.
6. Sweet stuff
If you’re organised, some home made cupcakes or cookies would be just the ticket – flour, sugar, eggs and butter are all widely available without plastic packaging.
If you’re not likely to have the time to bake, then chocolate in foil and cardboard. Yessss chocolate. Like Green & Blacks, Lindt, lots of own brands are in basic non-plastic wrap. (Dear chocolate, please stay in foil and cardboard, I don’t think I could cope without you as well as without crisps).
Use re-usable bottles filled with tap water instead of buying bottled stuff. Despite being 100% recyclable, only 7% end up being recycled into new bottles. Kids have their own bottles anyway so good to bring those. Cordials like lime, elderflower, pomegranate and lots of other cool flavours now come in glass bottles instead of buying plastic squash. More expensive, of course, but then maybe we should be drinking less of it anyway to save all our teeth.
But… bring out your re-usable glasses and cups and celebrate the real winners…
GIN (& TONIC)
All widely available in glass bottles!!! Phewwwww!
Cheers! Happy plastic-free picknicking!