Action 128: Take our “no plastic picnic challenge”

picnicDate: 08 May
Action: 128
Cost of taking action: £/$/€ MINIMAL


In the UK and USA, summer picnics are on the horizon at last!

In the UK and USA, improvements in the COVID-19 situation and the approach of summer mean that, hopefully, we will soon be able to enjoy family picnics again.

The traditional picnic is a basket of outdoor food, taken to a park or beauty spot. Often, disposable or plastic cutlery and plates will be used, especially if children are included.

Unfortunately, picnic type food is often served in plastic packaging, or cling film, and disposable utensils are made from single use plastic. Like so much of the plastic we use, this ends up contaminating our countryside or waterways. Even if it is taken home and disposed of properly, we need to drastically reduce the amount of plastic entering our waste systems.

So why not take our latest family challenge?

Your mission is to prepare, pack, serve, eat and then clean up after a family picnic, without using any plastic at all.

You’ll need to really think about how to make this work, because plastic is so embedded in the way we live, especially when it comes to food packaging.

Nature walk boardwalkThings to think about

Here are just a few of the things you will need to think about:

  • Your picnic cool box … it can’t be made of plastic. Try triple layers of cardboard boxes for insulation and transport, or use a traditional basket
  • Your cutlery and plates … you’ll need to take “real ones”, or invest in ones made from bamboo, other wood, or metals
  • Cups and glasses … no plastic!
  • Sandwiches … you’ll need to buy bread not in plastic packaging, and fill sandwiches with food from jars or cardboard packaging
  • Fruit .. brilliant .. but no plastic packaging allowed, so buy things like bananas and loose oranges and apples
  • Cakes … maybe make your own, and then take it in a proper metal cake tin
  • Chocolates and sweets … be careful of that packaging!
  • Drinks … no plastic bottles or plastic lined Tetrapaks, it’ll have to be bottles this time
  • Thermos flask … if you already own a thermos that includes plastic, you are allowed to use this. If you have to buy one, make sure it is made of metal only
  • Packaging … wrap sandwiches in paper bags, cloth napkins, or baking paper
  • Wipes and napkins .. be careful to ensure you only use ones guaranteed to not contain plastic
  • Cling film … absolutely not!
  • Rubbish … collect it all together in a compostable bag or your cardboard box

You get the idea!

We recommend that you make this a family challenge. Get everyone involved in looking out for any plastic that gets through your checks, or thinking about food and packaging that you can use to beat the challenge.

Why is this important?

Plastic pollution is a massive and growing problem, huge amounts of it – millions of tons made up of trillions of pieces – is being dumped every year and ending up polluting our landscapes and poisoning our oceans.

Have a look at this article we published earlier to learn more.

Once it’s in our seas and oceans, or embedded in our soils, plastic is virtually impossible to remove. We cannot reverse what has been done but we can work to limit future damage by stopping the use of single-use plastic packaging now.

Why this particular challenge?

  • Snacks are a major source of single use plastic pollution, it needs to stop
  • Get the family involved in doing something positive for the environment
  • Introduce a competitive element so that everyone works to get the plastic count down
  • Educate your children about the plastic pollution problem and the need for collective action
  • Introduce a wider environmental conscience to your children
  • Demonstrate to our young people that we care about the environment we are leaving to them

Please take action 128 and reduce the impact of your picnic on our wildlife and sealife whilst educating your family.

Have a great time picnicking and please tell us how you get on using the comment box below or through our social media channels.