Rolling out a rug beneath the trees, laying out a delectable spread of homemade fare and toasting with a glass of something special is just what’s needed for the perfect picnic—forget disposable cutlery, plastic cups and single-use crockery. It’s this zero-waste lifestyle approach that’s championed by Red Carnation Hotels, a family-run business that has successfully eliminated numerous single-use plastics from across its global collection. Here, we provide some practical suggestions for creating a memorable, stylish and environmentally sound picnic that caters for all—including the planet.

Steer clear of packaging

With an increasing priority on convenience, even a humble family picnic has the potential to generate a huge amount of waste. In supermarkets, picnic favourites such as chopped fruit, sausage rolls and bite-sized desserts come sealed in plastic tubs that take centuries to biodegrade. Those seeking to pursue a zero-waste lifestyle can head to the local farmer’s market and fill their basket with seasonal whole fruits such as ripe berries and plump apples, while crunchy carrot, celery and cucumber batons are ideal for dipping. Chop these at home—the peels and off-cuts can be composted or disposed of in a food waste bin.

Greaseproof paper or serviettes are an easy way to wrap home-prepared sandwiches, avoiding the use of cellophane. Pile pickles, dips and salads into Tupperware tubs or glass jars. Using plastic containers from the kitchen cupboard is perfectly acceptable, as long as you intend to reuse them. Next, how to transport your picnic to the park? Traditional wicker baskets are, of course, the romantic ideal, but a canvas bag serves just as well.

Say no to single-use plastics

From plastic straws and drinks stirrers to disposable coffee cups, Red Carnation Hotels has removed many single-use plastics from each of its hotels—one of our key steps towards a zero-waste lifestyle. Resourceful alternatives, made from bamboo, glass, metal and stainless steel, have replaced these. Order a latte to go and our barrister will serve it in a compostable cup, the lid produced from biodegradable corn starch. Similar switches are easy to make when packing a picnic. Bring along plates and cutlery from home, and keep glasses safe by folding them in linen napkins.

Prepare a spread from scratch

Unveiling a delectable homemade bake is the way to crown a memorable summer get-together. Homespun picnic dishes come with an anecdote about how they were made and are sure to taste even better as a result. Cooking from scratch also allows you to select ethical ingredients, such as sustainably caught seafood and free-range eggs. Blending your own fresh fruit juices or making lemonade is another way to reduce the amount of waste your next portable lunch leaves behind. Pour out a refreshing glass and toast to the perfect environmentally friendly al fresco feast.