7 Zero Waste Picnic Ideas

As people take advantage of the warmer weather and the gradual lifting of restrictions on outdoor gatherings, it seems that picnics are THE new way to socialise. In fact, here are my tips for the best picnic spots in Melbourne for families.

I know it can be convenient to just grab single-use disposable plastic plates, cups, cutlery and napkins and to throw it all away when you’re done – but the sight of overflowing bins in my local parks have got me thinking about some easy tips on how to reduce your waste when you next go on a picnic.

Just remember, you don’t have to be 100% into Zero Waste living – every little bit helps.

Zero Waste Picnic

Ideas for a Zero Waste picnic

  1. Pack your homemade or store-bought food in reusable containers.
  2. The empty reusable containers are also useful for taking home leftovers, food scraps and food waste for your compost bin, worm farm or food waste collection caddy if your council offers this service.
  3. Bring your own cutlery, plates, cups, straws and even reusable napkins that you can just throw in the washing machine afterwards. Just remember that everyone should have their own set – no one should be sharing cutlery! 
  4. BYO rubbish bags: Bring along an extra plastic, or better still paper bag to collect your rubbish.  I actually bring 3 bags – a landfill bag, a normal recycling bag and a soft plastics recycling bag.
  5. Don’t add to a full bin: Stuff just ends up blowing away and becoming litter. I suggest you take your rubbish home.
  6. Keep a lookout for a nearby recycling bin (usually paired with a general waste bin).   
  7. Scrunch your soft plastics into a bag and drop them off at your local supermarket via a REDcycle bin. 
picnic basket and low waste picnic ideas

Also remember we can’t quite picnic how we used to before.

  • Don’t share cutlery or food. Especially avoid double-dipping!
  • Opt for individual serves of food rather than diving into one big pot. 
  • You can remove a mask to eat and drink but when you’re not eating or drinking you must keep your mask on.
  • The number of people at your picnic should be in accordance with current DHHS State Government restrictions.
  • Remain at an appropriate social distance from other groups when you set up your picnic.
picnic basket zero waste picnic ideas

Best Waste-free food storage & reusable cutlery

To help you with packing your zero waste picnic, here are some of my favourite waste-free packaging options that you can reuse again and again and which are sturdy enough to withstand being bundled around inside a picnic basket or hamper.

Biome Zero Waste On the Go Hygiene Bundle

With bamboo knife, fork and spoon, stainless steel straw, napkin and hand sanitiser, all in a storage bag.

On The Go Hygiene Bundle

Carry Your Cutlery Kit

Or there is a stainless steel cutlery set, with storage tin, knife, fork, spoon, chopsticks, straw and straw cleaning brush.

If you just need to add a piece or two to your collection (especially for the littlest family members), you can buy a bamboo spork or a stainless steel spork.

Stainless Steel Cutlery

Green Essentials Round Triple Layer Bento Box

This triple layer box has 1500ml total capacity – so each layer can contain a different component of a meal or a single serve. They’re also great for takeaway food. The clamp holds all three layers together (although it does not promise to be totally leak proof).

Green Essentials Round Triple Layer Bento Box 1500ml

Ever Eco Reusable Silicone Food Covers (6pk)

Seal food for transport or protect any leftovers with reusable silicone food covers.  These are designed to replace cling wrap and keep food fresher for longer.

Ever Eco Reusable Silicone Food Covers

Ever Eco Stainless Steel Round Containers Set of 3 

Set of 3 stainless steel round containers with coloured leak proof lids – 150ml, 280ml and 500ml capacity.  Also available in Autumn theme coloured lids.

Ever Eco Stainless Steel Containers Set Of 3

Ecopocket Starter Set (3 Pack)

Set of 3 bags, perfect for storing smaller items on a picnic and they’re leakproof too!  These are an easy way to take a little sugar for a tea / coffee, garnishes or a special treat without sacrificing space in your picnic basket or tote.  The set includes 1 cup pocket, 2 cup pocket and 6 cup pocket.

Ecopocket Starter Set 3 Pack

Onyx stainless steel airtight leak proof container

These 45ml leak-proof containers are perfect for single serves of dips or sauces.

Cheeki Stainless Steel Lunchbox 500ml – The Everyday

This 500ml lunch box is perfect for a single meal for one, as it has just one compartment. It’s entirely made of stainless steel.  It also comes in a large 1.6L size, so you could serve food from it.

Cheeki Stainless Steel Lunchbox 500ml The Everyday

Best Reusable water bottles

Stainless Steel Water Bottles

I like a stainless steel water bottle as it can withstand knocks, bumps and even being dropped.  There are a variety of shapes, sizes and colours available so everyone in the family can have a different one.

Thermos King Vacuum Insulated Bottle with Flip Lid

This insulated bottle holds up to 710ml of hot or cold liquid.  Perfect for making a cuppa after your picnic or packing a hot chocolate.

Thermos King Vacuum Insulated Bottle With Flip Lid 710ml Midnight Blue

Cheeki Chiller Insulated Bottle

This bottle holds 1.9L of liquid, perfect for refilling cups, water bottles or containing almost a whole day of water for one person.

Cheeki Chiller

Best picnic accessories

Winestains Wine Glass Holders

If you’d prefer to drink out of  lovely stemmed glass, a Winestains Wine Glass Holder single or double will keep your glass out of harms way, and also makes a lovely gift idea. They’re handcrafted from recycled wine barrels.

Winestains Wine Glass Stake Two Glass Holder

Reusable Napkin Co. Hemp & Organic Cotton Napkin

Designed and produced in Australia, these are hemp and cotton napkins made sustainably and ready to be used over and over again.  Also available in Mackerel, Latte and Cauliflower.

Reusable Napkin Co. Hemp Organic Cotton Napkin

Best picnic baskets and accessories

Instead of throwing everything into a supermarket green bag, pack your picnic in these sturdy picnic baskets, bags and totes. They’ll keep everything together as well as looking super stylish!

PackIt Freezable Picnic Tote 

Designed to fit food for 4, with a pocket for utensils, or four large bottles. Large zip opening makes it easy to get supplies in and out easily.

Packit Freezable Picnic Tote Buffalo Check

Packit Freezable Backpack

Pack in your picnic food and keep your hands free with the Packit Freezable Backpack. By popping it in the freezer the night before, it will be set to keep your picnic cool.

The Dharma Door Jute Shopper

I love a good sized multipurpose bag that can go from the shops to a picnic to the beach.  This jute shopper is ethically made and will fit all sorts of things inside.

Order one of the best grazing boxes in Melbourne

Use this online tool to build your perfect grazing platter

Best picnic spots in Melbourne for families

About Joyce Watts

Joyce Watts is a former intellectual property, IT and media lawyer turned serial entrepreneur.

As well as being the founder of TOT: HOT OR NOT she helps businesses with their SEO, email marketing & social media as BrightSmart.com.au; she owns an online bike store CycleStyle.com.au and develops and produces creative experiences for families via WheelieGoodFun.com. She used to publish another popular lifestyle and food blog called MEL: HOT OR NOT The decisive guide to Melbourne.

She lives in inner-city Melbourne with her husband, two children and seven bikes.

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