Everything you need for a Zero Waste Picnic

This weekend we have a family outing. We grabbed our great variety of bikes and headed to a beach just outside of Barcelona. We didn’t want to eat out, so instead we packed a zero waste picnic lunch to bring with us to the beach and enjoy without worry about overspending (or producing waste) for weekend fun.

Preparing your zero waste picnic

One of the most important keys to going zero waste (and not failing) is planning. If you prepare yourself for all potential situations you can face when you are out of home, it make it maintain this lifestyle.

Some thoughts on planning:

  • Plan your meal using items that are on their way to go bad, you’ll have a healthy meal and produce less food waste.
  • Plan when you will prepare your meal. Multitasking is great when you think about everything you have to do and piece the puzzle together to get it done.
  • Make a checklist (mental or physical) to ensure you think of everything you need and how you can bring it along with you.


We planned our pasta dish to include the chorizo and last of our red onions, spinach, and kale. I made the meal while Alex and his son went to run an errand. I used the time the pasta took to boil to gather all of the items we needed to take with us and fill a few bottles of water from our Brita On-Tap Filter to take with us.

Later, I put on a pot of coffee on, while I got dressed and stored it in our thermos. (It keeps everything hot for more than 8 hours! It’s amazing and I got it free from a friend.) We love a coffee after our meals, so this ensured we didn’t need to buy it from a café. You can also try this on-the-go, cold brew coffee maker.

Our zero waste picnic bag

A few weeks ago I picked up this great insulated bag from H&M kids. It’s the perfect size for our large tupperware for family sized picnics. Our other small cooler bags didn’t fit the bill. I recommended not wasting money on a picnic set, as they often are expensive and include things you already have or they include plastic items.


In the big pockets we were able to fit our tupperware, cloth napkins, a roll of doggie poop bags (my trick for on-the-go compost collection), 3 metal forks, and a tin of mussels if we want a bit extra to eat after the pasta. The little side pocket fit a bottle of olive oil, salt and pepper in a mini reused plastic takeaway container, and a bottle of hand sanitizer.

Our Checklist

  • Pasta lunch in large tupperware
  • Tin can of mussels
  • Salt & pepper mix
  • Olive oil
  • Forks
  • Cloth napkins
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Doggie garbage bags
  • Reusable water bottles

Zero waste picnic foods

My second key to a successful zero waste picnic is non-messy foods. We choose to have pastas, but it didn’t include any sauces. It could easily be transported in a large tupperware that we could also eat out of, thus not needing any plates.

Some other great choices for a zero waste picnic include:

  • Sandwiches (made beforehand or bring all the fixings)
  • Dried fruits & Nuts bought in bulk
  • Chopped fruit (stored in a mason jar)
  • Bulk wine (in glass bottle)

Zero waste picnic food storage

Further cutting down the messiness of picnicking requires thinking about food storage. There are many ways to transport your picnic foods without creating trash. Check out this list of my favorites:

Don’t forget these zero waste picnic items

As we were going to the beach we each had our own backpack with everything that we needed. Everyone had their own microfiber quick drying towel that also doubled at our “picnic blanket”. But, you could always bring an actual blanket.

I also carried the coffee and a bottle of water in my bag. Since we would be covering 20,4km (there and back) we decide to fit everything into the three backpacks, including our cooler bag.

(Side note, there are plenty of options for natural sunscreen to bring with you if you will be spending lots of time in the sun.)

Final thought

It’s important to teach your kids about sustainability and zero waste when they are young. They get it. I was appalled when I saw a group of young girls lose their plastic bag and plastic chip bag because of the wind and just stare at it move away from them while their moms sat beside making no effort to recover the garbage that was just a meter away on the sand.

If we don’t all make the effort and don’t teach our kids to make the effort, where will we end up?

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One thought on “Everything you need for a Zero Waste Picnic

  1. Pingback: Zero waste at the beach - Repeat One, Repeat All

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