8 Picnic Essentials to Pack for a Sustainable Summer Outing

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"Planning a lunch picnic under the sun? You'll want to make a list of picnic essentials!"

Having a picnic in the park is the perfect way to enjoy the great outdoors while also spending time with the people you love. To have a successful outing, you’ll need a few picnic essentials: a blanket, basket of goodies, finger foods, and maybe even a bottle of wine. But that’s not all you’ll need.

While we love picnics—at the park, on the beach, or even in your own yard—we don’t love waste, and we don’t love disrupting nature. According to the National Parks Service (NPS), over 300 million people visit the national parks annually—generating almost 70 million tons of trash. 

To cut back on waste and divert it from landfills, the NPS has implemented several initiatives, including Don’t Feed the Landfills, which launched in 2015. However, while public parks and outdoor facilities can implement waste management services, it’s up to the public to follow those regulations. That’s where you and your picnic come in.

From paper and plastic litter to leftover food waste, having a zero-waste picnic can be tricky. But it’s not impossible. If you’re looking to have a picnic this summer, without leaving a massive environmental footprint, here are eight picnic essentials to pack in your woven basket.

8 Picnic Essentials for Eco-Friendly Outings

1. Insulated Paper Cooler, $46

Having a picnic under the sun means drinking cold beverages to help you stay hydrated. You’ll need a cooler—but not one of those bulky plastic ones that are hard to transport. Instead, use the Insulated Paper Seagull Cooler or the Insulated Paper Walrus Cooler!

Both coolers are made of Out of the Woods’ Supernatural Paper, which is made of tree cellulose sourced from responsibly-managed forests. They’re reusable, ethically made, and even come with a wine tote.

2. Collapsable To-Go Bowl, $25

What’s a picnic without finger foods? From trail mix to sandwiches cut into four triangles, your favorite bites are definitely a picnic essential. But you’ll want to ditch the plastic baggies and single-use packaging. Instead, use a Collapsable To-Go Bowl. It’s easy to travel with—and it’s better for the environment.

These food-grade silicone bowls are BPA-free with a BPS-free polypropylene lid. And they clasp shut, so they’re spill-proof. Pack all your favorites—from berries to sandwiches to pretzels and more.

3. Prep ‘n Serve Tray Set with Bowls, $45

serve tray picnic essentials

Another picnic essential is a charcuterie board, filled with cheeses, crackers, and fruits. With the Prep ‘n Serve Tray Set, you can make artsy charcuterie bowls the eco-friendly way—and you’ll have bowls to serve snacks in.

The set includes a large carry tray, a half utility tray, and six prep cups. And each item is made from a 100% plant-based plastic renewable that’s biodegradable. Plus, clean-up is easy: The set is also dishwasher-safe!

4. Biodegradable Bamboo Plates, $48

biodegradable plates picnic essentials

It’s time to ditch paper plates for good. Say goodbye to paper waste and hello to these adorable Biodegradable Bamboo Plates. These plates are made from certified organic bamboo fiber and cornstarch, and they’re perfect for any outdoor gathering.

These plates even come in adorable prints and colors. And if you need bowls, you’re in luck. The Biodegradable Bamboo Bowls are also made with renewable, eco-friendly materials and can be reused over and over again.

5. Citronella Incense Oil, $40

insense oil picnic essential

Spending more time outdoors means spending more time with our insect friends. And that can be suffering from itchy mosquito bites.

To avoid getting bit by bugs, you may use bug spray, but bug spray often comes in hard to recycle plastic packaging. With this Citronella Incense Oil, you can keep the bugs at bay the eco-friendly way.

This incense oil burns for 36 hours and there are no harsh chemicals involved. Plus, it’s zero-waste and flameless, so it’s perfect for the outdoors.

6. Stasher Sandwich and Snack Bags, $36

Plastic baggies are often used to hold snacks—from sliced fruit to salty chips. However, plastic baggies are difficult to recycle and create unnecessary waste. Instead, you can use Stasher Bags—aka the reusable, eco-friendly alternative to plastic bags.

These silicone storage bags are perfect for traveling and packing food for your picnic. And they’re free of BPA, BPS, lead, latex, and phthalates. Plus, you can even make low-waste rice or popcorn in your Stasher bag.

7. Sustainable Wine + Handblown Wine Glasses, $30

january drop

Pair your picnic with a glass of clean, sustainable wine! Not sure what to look for when buying a bottle? We’ve got you covered. Check out our guide to sustainable wine.

And be sure to pack your Stemless Handblown Wine Glasses. They’re ethically made of recycled glass, and they’re bright and colorful—perfect for sunny picnic days.

8. Eco-Friendly Sunscreen

eco-friendly sunscreen

Finally, if you’re having a picnic under the sun, you’ll need to protect your skin. However, before packing just any sunscreen, make sure the sunscreen is environmentally friendly.

That means checking if it’s reef-friendly, mineral-based, and low-waste. Check out our guides for buying eco-friendly sunscreen and zero-waste sunscreen.

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Planning a lunch picnic under the sun? You'll want to make a list of picnic essentials!

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