Columnist Geri Nikolai gives tips on how to help Mother Nature when you picnic or hike, etc.
Picnics are a grand summer tradition for us — but not a favorite of the environment, Mother Earth News tells us.
Outdoor parties, hikes and picnics usually produce bags of so-called "disposable" stuff such as paper plates and plastic cups and utensils, all of which take up space in a landfill. The better stewards at least take them home and put them in a garbage can. The slobs leave them at the picnic site.
But the "best" among us look for products that are recyclable. There are more all the time, says the Mother, which offers these "green" picnic picks:
- Dine on biodegradable plates made of cane fibers, a byproduct of sugar refining. When the cookout is over, throw them in your compost bin. $21 for 125 from Treecycle, (406) 626-0200 or www.treecycle.com.
- Eat with spoons and forks made of a potato-starch-based plastic. They can go in your compost heap, too. $6 for 50 forks, knives or spoons from Real Goods, (800) 919-2400 or www.realgoods.com.
- Drink with cups and straws made of a corn-based plastic. Yes, they can be composted, too. $9 for 50 cups, $6 for 400 straws from Eco-Products, (303) 449-1876 or www.ecoproducts.com.
- Need a tablecloth? Select one made of 100 percent natural, certified organic cotton, with patterns created by natural colors of different cottons. Napkins and place mats available, too. $43 for a 50-inch-square tablecloth from Abundant Earth, (888) 523-2784 or www.abundantearth.com.
- Blend party drinks without electricity by using a Vortex blender. The 48-ounce pitcher sits on a stainless steel base that stores inside the pitcher. There are two speeds on the ergonomic handle and clamps to hook it on a table. $88 from Real Goods, (800) 919-2400 or www.realgoods.com.
- Put out snacks or cut food for the grill, on a bamboo cutting board. Bamboo is harder than maple, lighter than oak, absorbs little moisture and is replenished quickly in bamboo groves. $10 and up from Totally Bamboo, (818) 765-9000 or www.totallybamboo.com.
- Start your fire with an odorless, ethanol-based fluid instead of one made from petroleum. $7 for a 32-ounce bottle from Real Goods, (800) 919-2400 or www.realgoods.com.
- Campers may be interested in the Katadyn Base Camp water filter. You fill it, hang it in a tree and let gravity get the water to you. It comes with an EPA-approved element to remove bacteria and parasites from five quarts of water in 10 minutes without pumping or chemicals. $59 from L.L. Bean, (800) 441-5713 or www.llbean.com.
- Use solar-powered LED table lights. Put them in the sun during the day; have safe lighting at night. $20 from Real Goods, (800) 919-2400 or www.realgoods.com.
- Use unbleached, 100 percent recycled napkins and paper towels for cleanup. $6 for 500 napkins, $11 for six 120-sheet rolls from Treecycle, (406) 626-0200 or www.treecycle.com.
For more, log on to www.motherearthnews.com.
Geri Nikolai writes about home and garden for the Rockford Register Star. Contact her at (815) 987-1337 or firstname.lastname@example.org.