The sun is shining and if you’re anything like us, you can’t wait to indulge in summertime’s greatest food and gathering traditions. While we are eager to celebrate, we’re also eager to live with a light touch and not waste. Whether you are packing up to go on a picnic or preparing a backyard grill, our team has some tips to share for how we celebrate the summer season with a low-tox lifestyle in mind.
1. Serving pre-prepared food? Use glass, ceramic or metal serving dishes.
Wherever and whenever possible, skip the plastic and choose reusable options. If you need to utilize disposables like a foil container, see how far you can extend its life, by washing it and using it as a serving dish over and over again before recycling it.
2. Cooking at your destination? Bring your own cookware.
It’s pretty amazing what you can cook up with well-seasoned cast iron over a hot fire or grill—everything from pizza to burgers. Look up “cast iron grilling” (bonus: you can use the Ecosia search engine—each search plants a tree!) to find some delicious inspiration. Or go sans pan with classics right atop the grill – our favorite is corn on the cob steamed in their husks. Or try making eggs in an orange peel!
3. Think outside the plastic bundle for silverware.
Single-use plastic is hard on the planet. Try using real silverware as opposed to plastic utensils. Or invest in a set of reusable silverware that you can carry with you at all times (we like a good bamboo set) for handy use.
4. Try finger food.
If you get really creative, you can strategically choose finger foods so you don’t need silverware at all. Some finger food ideas are tea sandwiches, mini burgers, chicken wings or drumsticks, deviled eggs and watermelon. Serving finger foods can help you stay minimal. (And that means fewer dishes too—a double win!)
5. Reaching for baggies? Go for a single-use-plastic alternative.
Swap plastic bags for 100% silicone reusable bags, reusable beeswax wraps, stainless steel containers, or glass containers. Because of the associated harmful effects of plastic and its lack of biodegradability, this will be good for both you and the planet. Also be wary of any disposable food packaging, as many of these products have been found to contain PFAS chemicals.
6. Try reusable napkins.
Instead of using paper napkins, use cloth ones that can be washed and reused. Bonus: they won’t fly away in a breeze! Also, if you’re picnic-bound it may be a good idea to bring along a kitchen towel or two for the inevitable spill.
7. Opt for reusable plates.
If you must use disposables, choose a non-plastic option like paper or bamboo. (Note: Even compostable plastics are problematic so try and steer clear.)
8. Pack it in / Pack it out.
If you’re out and about and unsure if the park, recreation area, or beach that you’re visiting has recycling and trash available, be prepared to pack it out. Pack an extra reusable bag or trash bags to facilitate the process and avoid leaving any litter behind.
9. Choose a nontoxic hand sanitizer.
This can really come in handy if you’re on the go or in a situation where handwashing is not readily available. Due to the not-so-great ingredients found in most conventional hand sanitizers, our team recommends using an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with simple ingredients. Or shop MADE SAFE certified hand sanitizers.
10. Keep the bugs away without the nasty stuff.
Conventional bug repellents often contain chemicals linked to human and environmental harm. Shop MADE SAFE certified solutions to avoid the top ingredient offenders. Other ideas for keeping the bugs at bay include utilizing mosquito netting, screened-in porches, scheduling your activity to avoid dawn and dusk (when mosquitos are at their worst), and covering up exposed skin as much as you can.
We hope you find these tips helpful as you plan your summer meals!