Making Your Summer Picnics Green

We all know that there are ways to make a summer picnic an eco disaster. Just make sure that everything is Styrofoam and plastic and that you include lots of disposables to pack your food so you can walk away without a mess. It’s quick, easy and there’s very little to clean when you get home.  No harm, no foul, RIGHT?

Well, not actually.  My husband and I go around about this a lot. He’s much more into convenience than being environmentally conscious when it comes to summer outdoor eating than I am. Fortunately for our environment, I’m the one who packs for picnics and camping trips-not he.

The things I do to make our picnics and camping trips less negatively impact the earth are several.  First, I use a fabric shower curtain instead of a plastic table cloth or cover as a table or ground cover. I purchased a cheap but fun one at a local discount store and we’ve used it for many years. It washes easily and keeps ground moisture from penetrating when we’re sitting in the grass.


Next, I bought a CHEAP set of stainless steal eating utensils and a plastic dinnerware set at a garage sale. They’re great for picnics because if a piece gets lost or broken it’s no big deal.  I keep them in one of my cloth t-shirt bags so that I can wash the utensils, the dishes and the bag and not worry about food mess.

Packing food is easy with reusable containers. I know it would be best to use metal containers but I don’t have any. I use my reusable plastic containers so I can bring them home and wash them instead of using plastic bags which are disposable and plastic.

It’s much more environmentally friendly to use a gas grill than it is to use charcoal and lighter fluid for cooking a main dish outdoors.  It isn’t always easy to lug that big honkin’ gas grill with us to the park or campsite so I pre-cook what needs to be grilled. Most grilled food is good cold as well as hot and we prefer cooler foods in the summertime at our house anyway.  If you are a die-hard charcoal user, use an electric starter and Wicked Good Charcoal is a brand that doesn’t contain pollutants.

Sometimes we don’t have choices about what we can or can not do in some situations but I’ve not found an occasion yet where we’re going to be eating outside that we’ve not been able to use our eco-friendly wares.  Eating outside doesn’t have to be perilous for the environment!


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  1. Fabulous article! I too pack in reusable tins and bowls. My husband is fairly eco-conscious, and he is a committed bbq er and loves his charcoal. He always uses apple wood, left over from spring pruning over the charcoal. It gives a wonderful, fruity, smoky flavor to the foods he grills.

  2. Who says you have to picnic during the day? LOL

  3. Fantastic ideas! Now if I wasn’t living in Texas in this 105 heat, I’d go out there and have my own picnic!

  4. They work so well and they can be thrown in the washer! :)

  5. Love the tip about using an old shower curtain instead of a plastic table cloth! I have a few extra on hand too! :) Thanks!

  6. Everything we do helps!

  7. I strive each day to be eco friendly in all of my daily practices. Thanks for sharing this information about being environmentally conscious for summer picnics. Smiles, Paula