With some planning, a sustainable picnic is easier than you think.

Although eating outside has been a favourite pass-time going back many centuries, it was the French who gave the phenomenon a name which we use today "pique-nique" - during the Baroque period. A 17th to 18th century picnic often involved elaborately decorated boxes which contained everything from porcelain plates and silverware to champagne flutes and utensils. It was a special event, celebrating togetherness, food, and nature, while nothing was thrown away.

This love affair with eating out in the open continues today. However, a modern picnic is often associated with disposable plates and paper cups, which are not good for the environment.

With a small amount of careful planning, a sustainable picnic may be easier than you think. Here are a few tips.

Leave Nothing Behind

Packing the picnic basket is where it all starts if you want to leave nothing behind. Consider taking plates and cutlery which can be reused. For example, a light weight dining set can double up as a picnic set. Or with some creativity, careful wrapping and packing of food, it may be possible to double up on some practical functions. For example, the lids of food storage containers could also serve as plates. These are just a few ideas. Set yourself a challenge for a zero waste picnicand see how far you can go with it.

Stay Local

Riding a bike or walking to a picnic spot is not only a great way to incorporate some exercise into the day, it also keeps personal carbon emissions low. Exploring local nature can also be a wonderful way to appreciate the beautiful natural areas which are nearby. Check with your local park agency for the best picnic spots near you. 

Insect Repellent

During summer, insects can be a particular problem, particularly near a body of still water, or when there are low wind levels. However, not many people realise that commercial insect sprays will kill insects like mosquitos, as well as harm or kill beneficial insects like bees and other pollinators. The good news is there are many natural insect repellents, such citronella or crushed lavender flowers that keep the insects away while not harming other insects, or the environment. Garlic and lemon juice can also be mixed together to keep undesirables buzzing off in another direction. Just make sure the mixture is not so strong that it repels your picnic friends.