Greening Your Picnic by the Beach

picnic month

What’s the Best Style Picnic or Barbecue?
The One That is Trash-free!

What better way to kickoff the summer than with a picnic at the park or barbecue at the beach? Good friends and good food can make for great memories, but how do you make sure trash doesn’t get left behind when the fun is over? If you’re planning outdoor events this summer, follow these tips to keep it green and the ocean trash-free.

Reusable Utensils and Plates

Avoid one-time use products like plastic spoons and forks and paper plates. Bring a set of lightweight silverware and plates from home that is easy to pack. If that isn’t an option, be sure to choose plates made from plant-based or recycled materials.

Cloth Tablecloths and Napkins

Nowadays, you can find disposable tablecloths in prints and patterns for any theme, but the best choice is one that lasts. Invest in a cloth picnic blanket or tablecloth you’ll want to reuse year after year. You can also slip some cloth napkins into your picnic basket to replace paper ones. Not only is cloth more comfortable, keeping a set designated for outdoor fun will shorten your shopping list and make your cleanup load lighter.

Food with Little Packaging

When planning the menu for your outdoor meal, try to incorporate foods that require little to no packaging. You can save money and avoid waste by making some of the snacks you love at home. Homemade salsa, guacamole or pasta salad can often be a simple, delicious, and waste-free way to impress your guests. If you’re traveling beyond your own backyard, be sure to pack up food in reusable containers and bags.

No Bottled Beverages

Instead of buying those two-liter bottles of lemonade or iced tea, make your own refreshing beverages and carry them in pitchers or beverage coolers with no-spill lids. Don’t forget to use reusable or recyclable cups! You can also bring water in stainless steel or other reusable containers to cut down on plastic bottles.

Leave No Trace

Even if you followed all of the previous tips, you may still have some cleanup to do when all of the fun is said and done. Make sure to dispose of all waste in the proper trash or recycling bins on site or take your waste home and dispose of properly it there. Remember, every piece of trash you leave behind could end up in the ocean!

Re-posted in entirety from
Written by Ocean Conservancy intern, Allison Arinaga.