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5 Essentials for a Sustainable Picnic

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Summer picnics are a quintessential seasonal treat. Sharing a meal in nature, with views your dining table never sees is one of those joys in life we can all relate to.  

But have you ever thought about how much waste happens as a result? Typically, a picnic might bring on plastic single-use zip top bags, paper plates and napkins, plastic cutlery and single-use plastic water bottles. At the end of your peaceful gathering, you’re leaving behind plastic waste that may never break down. We have 5 ways you can shift your picnic from wasteful to sustainable with some easy swaps and a little planning. Plus, view some picnic fare handcrafted by fair trade artisans around the world whose craftsmanship provides them and their families sustainable income.  

Sustainable Picnic Blanket

On the Indian subcontinent, women commonly wear saris; 6 yards of stunning textile in vivid colors that are draped in an artistic manner, creating full attire. When these garments are no longer suited for attire, the textile is washed and repurposed by skilled fair trade artisans into blankets, throw pillows, bed linens and other creative home goods. When you purchase this recycled sari blanket, you aid in offering employment to women in rural India and you receive a gorgeous packable blanket for your al fresco dining (or your snuggly sofa).

Sustainable Picnic Basket

What’s a picnic without a basket? Weaving is a traditional craft in many parts of the world. Each basket you’ll find at Ten Thousand Villages is handwoven with techniques passed down from generation to generation in each culture. A sustainable picnic winner!  

Meet the Essential Companion Tote. It really will become an essential companion once you realize how versatile and beautiful it is. Take it to the market, the beach, a conference, a playdate or a picnic—it won’t let you down. This basket is handwoven by artisans in Bangladesh with palm leaf fiber, featuring leather shoulder straps that make it a breeze to carry.  

Biking to your picnic destination for extra eco-happy points? Strap your picnic into the Palm Leaf Bike Basket! 

Try out our many basket bag options featuring woven grasses and recycled sari. 

Sustainable Food Containers

Embrace the modern era and relinquish your hold on plastic single-use zip top bags. There are many other options! To up your sustainability, avoid food packaging altogether by shopping the bulk foods section with your own cotton bags. These take along fruit, nuts and crunchy snacks like pretzels so well! 

Ever used bees wrap before? It’s a marvelous alternative to plastic wrap and super versatile! Wrap up fresh fruit, cheese, sandwiches, or anything else you would have reached for plastic wrap for. It warms in the heat of your hands and then “seals” once it cools. Rinse and re-use. Easy pleasey lemon squeezy.  

Another fantastic plastic alternative is silicone zip top bags that can be washed and reused over and over. Use these guys for things you need an air-tight seal on. The most fun part is choosing what colors you want! 

Sustainable Picnic Utensils

Sustainable utensils made from bamboo can replace plastic cutlery. 
Try this set from Marley's Monsters featured on a black and white cloth napkin next to a sunflower.

You can always wrap up your usual silverware and drop the dirties into one of the food wraps/bags you came with to pack out, but if you’d like something lighter, grab some reusable bamboo travel utensils. You can also get a washable utensils carrying case from family-founded, Marley’s Monsters.

Two stainless steel straws and a straw cleaner come in a carrying case made from upcycled sari fabric with button closure by Ten Thousand Villages.

Take along the Straw Travel Kit to pop into any bevvy you crack open without using a disposable plastic straw. Two straws, plus carrying case and straw cleaner come in this set from Ten Thousand Villages. The case is handmade from upcycled sari fabric by artisans in India.

Sustainable Plating

It’s about time the wonder of the cloth napkin resurfaced. They’re not just for Easter dinner at Grandma’s house. A good set of cloth napkins in rotation at all mealtimes will eliminate a significant amount of paper waste in the household! Take a stash along on your sustainable picnicking adventure, and they’ll be there for spills, drips and to function as a plate in place of paper!  

Want something sturdier? You can also invest in a stash of stainless-steel plates. They’re light, nearly indestructible, and a great paper alternative.  

At Ten Thousand Villages, we strive to put people and planet first. With these sustainable options for a picnic blanket, basket, food containers, utensils and plating, we’re hoping your next picnic adventure puts planet first too.  

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Erica Martin

Content Writer for Ten Thousand Villages, Erica’s heart beats for travel, sunshine, campfires and great chai tea lattes. You’ll generally find her in the garden, behind a camera, curled around a good book, or chasing her 3 children who insist upon getting faster and more cunning every year they’re alive. Words bring Erica life, and she’s hoping you’ll excavate something gratifying from hers.

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