Iced coffee in the park, wine on the beach, a fresh pot of strawberries halfway through a hike, or ice-cold water on the way to work, everyone has their ways of spending the summer season. But spending more time outside often means using more disposable containers. It’s easy to slip into wasteful habits whilst enjoying the summer sun.
Think about the amount of plastic waste there is in your picnic box? Single-use plastic cutlery, disposable cups, plastic drinks bottles, and sandwiches wrapped in clingfilm…
Minimizing plastic waste is just as important in the summer season as it is in wintertime. Single-use bottles and disposable coffee cups don’t dissolve with your winter blues. Fortunately, you can swap your single-use plastics for inexpensive and practical zero-waste alternatives.
This summer make sure you’re prepared with a summer set of sustainable food and drink containers. Instead of using throw-away plastic containers, invest in a couple of durable cups, pots, and bottles. That way, you can make the most of the summertime without harming the environment.
Here are a few ideas to get you started...
5 Must-Have Items for the Perfect Summer Set
Insulated Water Bottle
The first essential item is a reusable and insulated water bottle that keeps your favourite beverages hot or cold. According to the Ocean Conservancy, more than 1.7 million plastic bottles were collected in the 2019 Coastal Cleanup. And, there are many more tons of plastic bottles floating in offshore ocean garbage patches. Get a durable water bottle and you'll instantly minimise your plastic waste. You'll also save money in the long term and support The Ocean Cleanup.
I recommend the FLASKE water bottle. It comes in four sizes and multiple colours, stylish enough for the office and practical enough for all your summer activities. The smallest of the four sizes, 260 ml, is ideal for iced coffee and fruit teas or hot beverages. You can choose to make your drinks at home or get a takeaway without the disposable cup. Your regular coffee shop may even provide a discount for bringing your own bottle.
I always have my 500 ml FLASKE bottle in my bag. It’s the most convenient size for commuting to work and exercising. Carrying a water bottle will remind you to stay hydrated and drink enough water. Plus, you can refill your water bottle from public water fountains or an office water cooler.
The largest FLASKE water bottle is best for long walks or travel. It’s a little big to put in your purse but just right for a small backpack. Also, at 750 ml, this reusable thermoflask is exactly the size of a bottle of wine. Add this to your zero-waste picnic basket and you’ll never drink warm wine again.
Bamboo or Stainless-Steel Cutlery
Forks, knives, and spoons were the fourth most collected item in the Coastal Cleanup. Over 1.9 million of these utensils were found on beaches around the world in the last Ocean Conservancy international cleanup.
Plastic cutlery is single-use and horrible to eat from. Reusable cutlery sets, made from stainless-steel or bamboo, are lightweight, easy to clean, and compact enough to slip into a picnic basket or backpack. Travel zero-waste this summer with a set of eco-friendly cutleries.
Another stylish addition to your zero-waste summer set is an insulated stainless-steel tumbler cup. Like the FLASKE water bottle, FLASKE tumbler cups are strong, good looking, and thermally insulated. A 500 ml cup can keep your homemade strawberry smoothie ice-cold for up to 12 hours. It’s more comfortable than drinking from a disposable plastic cup and more sustainable than single-use paper cups. You can pair tumbler cups with stainless-steel straws to make them child-friendly too.
Cloth or Beeswax Food Wraps
Cling film is the most obvious sandwich wrap but standard clingfilm is not biodegradable. It makes foods sweat too. Cotton cloth or beeswax are more sustainable materials for wrapping foods. These are reusable, washable, and don’t make foods sweat.
Reusable Food Containers
Food packaging is tricky to recycle. Recyclable and non-recyclable plastics need to be separated and washed, excess grease can make paper or card non-recyclable, and you need to check which materials are accepted by your local recycling collection. Recycling incorrectly can contaminate the entire batch and cause more waste.
Buying foods that are packaging in 100% recyclable, biodegradable, or compostable packagings is a greener option. But an easier and less expensive solution is to pack your picnic into a reusable food flask or airtight container.
I like to use my FLASKE stainless-steel food pot in all seasons but especially in the summertime. It’s tough enough to take on my weekend hiking trips and the perfect size for taking my lunch to work. Instead of eating in the office canteen, I fill my food pot with homemade foods and spend my lunch break in the fresh air without creating plastic waste. It’s leak-free too, so I’m never afraid that my lunch will escape into my bag or hiking pack.
You can green your home and office space by using these 30 top tips for going zero-waste.