The Sustainable Summer Picnic: 3 easy steps for an eco-conscious outing

  • Thursday, June 13, 2019 9:47am
  • Opinion

With summer quickly approaching, it’s time to dig out the picnic blankets and dust off the barbecues.

The elusive Pacific Northwest sunshine has the power to rouse us from winter hibernation and remind us of the pure joy of relaxing outdoors with a plate of chips and guacamole.

Before you sit down at the picnic table, here are a few ways to make your outdoor fun environmentally friendly, too.

Careful purchasing

A big part of reducing your environmental footprint is cutting down on food waste. Roughly a third of the food produced worldwide is wasted each year. Large gatherings and events can involve over-purchasing and piles of wasted potato salad. Consider how many people will attend your event and only buy what you need.

Bring a cooler to keep things fresh and storage containers to send leftovers home with guests. Here’s more on food waste reduction from National Geographic for anyone wanting to learn more.

Plan your menu

Another consideration is the type of food you buy. Meat can be rich in key nutrients like protein and iron, and yet it generally takes more land, energy and water to produce a pound of animal protein than it does to produce a pound of plant protein. That’s why the production of meat and dairy can result in higher greenhouse gas emissions.

The good news is, there are tons of yummy and healthy vegetarian options. How about adding black bean burgers or a few vegan hot dogs to the picnic menu? You don’t need to go 100% vegetarian to have a big impact. Cutting back on meat consumption even a little can go a long way for the planet.

Recycle right

You’re nearly there! You pulled off the ultimate summer-fun eco-conscious event. What’s next? Cleaning up the mess. Be sure all bottles and cans are clean and empty before tossing them in the recycling bin. For a complete list of items accepted for recycling in Auburn, go to wmnorthwest.com/auburn.

Finally, get your compost game on. The best place for food scraps or food-soiled paper (like greasy napkins) is the compost, aka food and yard waste cart. Food waste makes up about 20 percent of what goes to the landfill. When we compost food scraps, those juicy nutrients turn into rich soil amendments for our parks, gardens, and landscaping.

No one wants plastics in the garden, however, so make sure your paper plates are uncoated and made of just paper, and remove all stickers from fruits and vegetables. Plastics and garbage are incredibly difficult to remove during the composting process.

Here’s to a summer full of sustainable picnics and outdoor get-togethers. Enjoy.

Hannah Scholes is Waste Management’s education and outreach manager. Learn more at Recycle OftenRecycleRight.com.

More in Opinion

In tough month, an ally becomes a competitor for Eyman

After getting signatures for a measure that didn’t qualify, Restore Washington wants to do its own.

Nothing cheesy: Apollo missions brought us more than just the moon

America needed something to bring people together. Apollo 11 accomplished that.

2020 Census and the importance of being counted

Census affects everything from government representation to federal funding.

Yes, Virginia, lawmakers did raise a lot of fees and taxes

They passed 51 bills to bring in more money. Democrats pushed major tax hikes past a resistant GOP.

COURTESY, Emma Epperly, WNPA Olympia News Bureau
This year’s biggest election for Democrats isn’t on the ballot

Four women are vying to become the next House speaker. The Democratic caucus will decide in July.

Restoring affordability to a college education is vital to America

Focus needs to be on approaches, which are affordable and effective for students and their families

Hatchery movie misguided, inaccurate

Outdoor clothing and gear manufacturer Patagonia recently released “Artifishal,” a misguided documentary… Continue reading

Family-owned business backbone of America

During the 1992 presidential campaign, then-candidate Bill Clinton famously intoned, “I feel… Continue reading

Nation sorely lacks positive role models

Our culture has forgotten the importance of role models to future generations

Politics, not science behind water quality rollback

I don’t know how you can be against clean water, but some… Continue reading

The Sustainable Summer Picnic: 3 easy steps for an eco-conscious outing

With summer quickly approaching, it’s time to dig out the picnic blankets… Continue reading

Legislature: History, investigations and new laws

The 2019 session of the Legislature included controversy, compromise, surprise, new law and more.