Planning the Perfect "Eco" Picnic

Fresh lemonade and cold sandwiches aside, there’s just something about a picnic that screams, “Summer is here!” From blanket to basket, the perfect picnic requires very little planning and just a smidgen of cooperation from the sun. Here’s how you can make your picnic eco-friendly in no time.


Creating a beautiful family picnic is a perfect reason to take a trip to your local farmer’s market or tend to your CSA garden. Choosing fresh, local vegetables and fruits for your meal will give you a simple menu with a cornucopia of nutrients.

Before packing your basket, take a moment to think about which foods will require you to use the fewest number of utensils and will help you save—both on the weight of your basket and on overall waste. Choose finger foods that are both delicious and functional, like a peanut butter, apple and honey sandwich, a bunch of grapes or some thick, juicy whole strawberries (or all three). 

Another creative option? Try a layered, ready-to-eat salad in a mason jar for total portability.


The bulk of your eco-friendly picnic will involve the non-food supplies you bring with you. The good news is that most materials for your eco-friendly picnic can be found around your house! Glass containers and mason jars are the ideal picnic food and drink carriers, and can be used to tote just about anything on your menu.

Your other toting tool, the basket, doesn’t always have to be a basket. Canvas bags also work well! But if you’re craving the nostalgia of picnics past, consider investing in an eco-friendly option, like this basket by Eco Displayware that also comes in white.

As for your eating tools, napkins are a must. Cloth works wonders, but if you’re concerned about the weight of your basket, paper products are a helpful addition. We’re fans of unbleached, 100% recycled choices, like our newest natural napkins. They’re easy to carry and hypoallergenic. What more could you ask for at clean up time? A little moisture for those sticky strawberry hands?

A pack of Seventh Generation Free & Clear Baby Wipes will make the best picnic buddies you could invite. Throw them in the bottom of your bag and pop one out for the real messes of the afternoon. When you’re ready to toss them out, make sure you have a trash bag handy.

With all the thought going into what you’ll carry, you might forget about the most essential element for a picnic—your picnic blanket! The texture needs may vary based on the setting of your picnic, but a good, eco-friendly bet is a giant sheet or old quilt from your linen closet. If you’re looking for something thicker, an organic blanket by SEWNnatural has you covered.


A huge part of picnic fun is the hike to get there. If you live in a suburban or rural area, we’re sure you can find a cove where you can enjoy your meal within walking distance. If you’re in an urban setting, try a jaunt to a nearby park where you can seek out some shade, sun and a moment with nature while you nosh.

While the journey’s important, so is the stay. What outdoor activities do you like to do as a family? A Frisbee toss, game of pick-up soccer or a no-frills scavenger hunt (who can find the first ant?) will keep your crew busy while setting up and digesting.

Have you had an eco-friendly picnic? What parts worked without a hitch? 

Photo: Britt Willis