What is summer without eating outside? If you are like me and live in an apartment, then the park is your garden. Zero waste inspired folks are well trained in preparing simple meals that can be transported easily. Like always, though, plan in advance. Here are some steps to think about:
1. Pick the food and be practical about it
I recently threw a little picnic because I left Berlin for the summer. Even though you can grill in some of the parks, I wanted to avoid the mess that comes with that. It’s more simple to go for antipasti, salads, spreads and wine, rather than the German version of meat and beer in grand amounts. Besides, everyone seems to love antipasti, even though it is so basic. I can get fresh ingredients, olives and cheese at the market. Everything is easy to pack and can be eaten cold.
2. Do your thing: zero waste shopping
At the market, no one seems to mind my reusable bags, jars and steel containers. I do have an enormous smile on my face whenever I am there, so maybe they get distracted. I usually bake my own bread because I love it as much as Oprah, and I don’t want to be at the bakery every day. However, if I need bread in big quantities, I buy it using a pillow case. Sometimes the bakery girl notices and she cries in surprise “but this is a pillow case!”. Then everyone there looks at me and I like to think I just inspired them to be as cool as I am and run around with pillow cases.
3. Pack like a pro: this is why we have all those jars
Stainless steel containers are expensive, so I am currently owning just one beloved lunch box. But that’s why I am collecting an unlimited amount of glass jars! Choose the ones that are wide enough to get the hand in, cut in advance and just simply store everything in jars.
There is a great wine place around the corner where I live, and they refill bottles. Wine is easier to carry than all of those beer bottles and I am also pretending to be sophisticated. I bring lots of water in quality plastic bottles that are more practical to transport. Sometimes I buy elderberry syrup in a small glass bottle if anyone wants to mix things up.
4. Real people use real cutlery
I do not own a reusable picnic set (yet?), so I will just pack my kitchen equipment. If you are not inviting a whole bunch of people, it is just as convenient to bring real plates. Pack some reusable napkins or if you don’t have them, a couple of kitchen towels will do. You can wrap plates in towels to protect them between the transportation.
I don’t have any steel cups or something like that so I usually just grab some small ceramic mugs. I prefer them over glass because they are lighter and won’t break easily. Also, it is fun to drink wine from a coffee mug! Alternatively, you could use jars for drinking if there are any left. They are usually strong and the lid is practical against wasps. Other options would include asking friends to bring their own cups or just giving each their own bottle. 🙂
I bring my cutlery in what used to be a T-shirt sleeve. It is neat because I can put cutlery back when it is dirty and wash the sleeve with the next laundry.
5. Stable transport is crucial
A basket is a great way to transport everything without creating a chaos. It fits in the box on my bike or I carry it under my arm. I cover salad and spread bowls with a plate and put them on top of each other at the bottom of the basket. Then I put jars around so that nothing can move. You can use the blanket to fill the missing space or to wrap it around jars and mugs for extra protection. I have a cross body cotton bag, which is great for transporting bottles. Check twice if you have an extra jar for the compost, I tend to forget it. 🙂
Any zero waste picnic tricks up your sleeve? Let me know!