When the weekend sets in or maybe a one-day holiday and you wonder how you will spend the day with so much fun in between, picnics, in most cases, is the way to go. When you call friends and plan to go out to some green area for hiking, bird watching or whatever and food or snacks is involved; that’s a picnic. When Blankets and Wine, Koroga Festival or any other hyped Kenyan activity is one of your favourite things to do, instead of having the FOMO (Fear Of Missing Out) hit you hard; that’s definitely a picnic. When you wonder how to have a special moment with bae and don’t see the need of going all explosive and break your bank account so you figure out something special and the picnic idea crosses your mind. Let’s go for a picnic, potluck, beach party, eat out or visit a relative in school (does this still happen). Whatever you choose to call it, it’s still the same kind of activity where food is eaten in an open place that is not the home or a restaurant.
The good news is, picnics are a great way of how humans have been able to interact with each other. The not so good news is, sometimes we go for picnics all set to have fun and enjoy the serene beauty of mother nature but end up having used and disposed of so much plastic waste and we rarely realize the impact we have had on the planet.
Let’s say you have had a picnic, in whatever way at least two times a year. During the many times (add up all the times you have eaten out), you used plastic cups, plates and cutlery. You drunk out of a plastic water bottle. Probably several plastic water, juice and soda bottles. Used a plastic bag to carry all your snacks (before the plastic bag ban came into effect). Bought food wrapped in plastic or packaged in disposable plastic containers. Used so many straws in just one day. Yet, when it was time to go home, all the plastic waste was disposed of at the nearest dustbin (if you are this good) or left right where you had a feast.
This is not such a pretty scenario. With our oceans set to be filled with more plastics than marine life by 2050 if we don’t change our plastic addiction, being watchful of our actions is essential. Sometimes we think plastics are convenient. Maybe it’s a millennial thing. if you ask the older generation (not so old though), picnics had less to no plastics. This is not a dream. A plastic-free picnic was the reality back then and we should bring it back now.
So, how can our picnics be fun and waste-free.
Go old school with cutlery
Glass, metal or bamboo. As long as it can be reused for years, it is good to go. Forget the plastic cups, the paper plates the plastic forks and spoons. Do not even think about them. When you go shopping looking for the disposable plastic section, shift your zero waste conscious compass to the reusable section. If glass seems bulky, try metal. If this seems too much, try melanin. And if all fails for a start you can go with the reusable plastic section. For bamboo, this is a plant we should embrace. As long as you intend to reuse the item later, marine life will be grateful. In fact, you will be happy you helped yourself because you are part of the planet.
This goes for those honey and jam jars, margarine, ice cream or butter containers or any store bought containers, glass or plastic. Instead of disposing of them, why not use reuse them. Glass jars are great as cups or to store sauces because of their airtight sealable lids. No need to buy any containers when you already have them.
No straws, please
Straws suck! This item easily gets into our waterways and endanger the lives of marine animals. They come in beautiful colours and spiral shapes. We love to use them yet they are not even necessary. What is so wrong about drinking straight from the bottle or cup? We need to forget plastic straws.
Cling film for who!
Such a convenient item but not necessarily. Carry food in sealable containers or use a clean cloth to wrap dry food or snacks. Paper can also be used to wrap food but not advisable unless it has been recycled. We still need trees to breathe. I think packaged paper manufactured both locally and internationally should have a mark to indicate the source having been from a planted forest intended for commercial use with a bring back for recycle option.
Home is best
Home cooked meals are the best. There is no need of buying food from the grocery store or restaurant that will be packaged in disposable plastic containers unless you are bold enough to tell the attendant to pack in the container you brought. Either way, you can easily make mandazi’s with Kaluhi, Samosa’s with Mandi and sandwiches with Shobanes right in the comfort of your home without so much hustle. You can even blend your own juices from fresh fruit in-season instead of having to buy the plastic juice bottle. Try it. Food prepared at home is always the best and very affordable.
The water bottle will join in
Always remember to carry your own water bottle. If you have many, bring all along. Unless your picnic involves a hike in the Chalbi Desert, you don’t need a whole 20 litres of water. You can even freeze water the previous night for hot days.
The glass bottle
When was the last time you drunk from a glass soda bottle? We have become so accustomed to the plastic soda bottle, yet a while back drinking from a glass bottle was so refreshing. Once done, you can return the bottle to the depot or shop without having disposed of any plastic bottle. If you are afraid of breaking it, maybe you should consult the fear within you.
Left overs are the best
When going for a picnic and are wondering what to prepare, why not look at your kitchen once more. You will be surprised what you can do with left over. Just recently, I came across Ugali fries. Yay or nay?
Don’t fret about the basket
Where you place all the above items is dependent on who you are meeting and why you are even going for a picnic. If hiking is involved, everyone can be responsible for specific items in their bags. If it’s a group or two people type of picnic involving lots of sitting, one basket preferably a reusable basket is needed.
Having a plastic-free mindset can be challenging. It takes time. One step at a time. You do not need to do everything as said in this list. Start with one item. Progress is all that matters not perfection. In the meantime, always live your life every day reducing your plastic footprint. Not everyone will agree with your ideas and the new way of life. In fact, you will get weird stares. Keep going. Cheers to a zero waste life. Create memories, not a plastic mess. Remember to carry the classic Masai blanket. #BreakFreeFromPlastics
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