Going zero waste alfresco! How to enjoy a plastic-free picnic...

Going zero waste alfresco! How to enjoy a plastic-free picnic...

Single-use plastic is a big topic of conversation when it comes to environmental impact. In terms of issues facing us humans, it's one of the biggies. Mad(ly polluting), bad (for our oceans' health) and dangerous (for wildlife) to know, more and more of us are making bold moves to remove plastic from our lives wherever we can.

But where to start? Cutting out unnecessary single-use plastics is a quick win for the whole planet, and what nicer way to launch a new plastic-free life than by meeting family and friends for along overdue 'zero waste' picnic?

Buy your picnic fruit and veg loose

Standard food and drink packaging is a recycler's nightmare of plasticky wraps, punnets, toggles, tags, vacuum and blister packs, protective films and polystyrene – at least 70% of which ends up going straight into landfill after just one use.

Plastic-free picnickers, make a start on your provision shopping by taking some reusable totes to your favourite greengrocer and baker (or supermarket equivalents) and opting for loose fruit, veg and bread.

Take your own containers to the deli section...

What about the mains and salads for your picnic? All part of the plastic-free fun – and you might even make a new friend!

Instead of grabbing the usual pre-packaged goodies, ask the folk behind the counter at your local deli or at the deli counter at the supermarket if they can weigh out and box up quiches, cheese, salads, coleslaw's, olives and cold meats in reusable containers that we bring from home.

... or make frugal picnic foods from lovely leftovers

Not all of us will want to spend a load of cash buying ready-made items, so if you have time why not prepare one or two of these moreish recipes with leftovers that may be languishing in the fridge and cupboard?

>> Italian bread salad – best with slightly stale, day-old bread and very ripe tomatoes

>> Leftovers frittata – this summery dish is ideal for using up pickings from a roast chicken, a piece of ham, bacon or roasted veg

>> Classic sandwiches – cold meats from Sunday's roast, a few salad leaves, mayo or pickle – YUM!

Go for drinks in cans and glass bottles

Help out with recycling by choosing drinks in easily recyclable containers, such as glass bottles and aluminium drinks cans.

Getting a nice bottle of wine for the 'grown ups'? Look for one with a real cork or twist cap, not a plastic stopper.

Bring 'proper' cutlery and tableware...

Disposable plastic eating and drinking utensils are a really unnecessary source of non-biodegradable waste. Avoid at all costs and take along reusables instead!

Of course, unless we're feeling really fancy, we probably aren't going to pack the best dinner service and family heirlooms. Take along some everyday bowls, plates, cutlery, serving utensils and fabric napkins for your plastic-free picnicking pleasure.

...and jam jars!

Old, washed jam jars with tight-fitting lids are zero waste superstars: we can drink from them, eat from them, purchase and carry ingredients, store condiments, shake up a quick salad dressing... you name it!

Do a quick litter pick

And when it's time to wend your way home, take a few minutes to scan around to make sure you're not leaving anything behind accidentally. If you see any litter, do everyone a favour... if it's safe to do so, escort it to the bin or home with you for recycling.

How are you going plastic free? Share your thoughts and comments with us via Twitter and Facebook!

>> The joyous habit of buying only what we really need

>> Take the Rubbish Diet Challenge and slim your bin