We all know how bad plastic is for the planet, and hopefully, you’ve already taken some steps towards helping our planet (you know, like refusing to use any straws). Recent reporting states that most of our plastic we use daily is in the form of packaging. Packaging that is only used once and rarely, if ever, recycled. This trash is said to now account for roughly half of the plastic waste generated globally.
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Even worse, it doesn’t ever seem to go away. The national Minister of Environmental Affairs, the Honourable Edna Molewa, said earlier this year that “Plastic pollution is particularly insidious because once plastics enter into the environment, they do not biodegrade, but simply break down into smaller pieces over time. This has a detrimental effect on our environment, more so once this pollution enters our oceans and endangers marine life and fragile marine ecosystems”.
Pack your padkos better for the planet this summer with the help of these eco-friendly picnic tips.
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1. Make your own basket
Many readymade kits you find on the market consist purely of plastic. Look closely. Utensils, mug, cups and crockery. Rather unpack some of your kitchen drawers at home and put together your own picnic or padkos basket. I often use a Woolworths Recycled Shopping Bag (from R19) to wrap up anything breakable and it fits easily behind a seat.
Try to buy without plastic too. Picking up fresh rolls? Your favourite fruit? A bunch of avocados? Stash these lightweight Tiptoe Totes Reusable Fresh Produce Bags (R66 for two) in your handbag or in the cubbyhole so it’s always convenient. This way, you won’t be using the flimsy plastic produce bags. These totes are breathable and double as a trash bag to carry any recyclables home.
2. Clever cups
Use your own. The guys at Mugg and Bean will not look at you strangely any more if you bring your own reusable coffee cup and there are plenty of travel-friendly options on the market. Places like Woolworths and Seattle Coffee even offer discounts to those who bring their own cups.
3. Upcycled crockery
Glass jars, old feta containers and yoghurt tubs all make great containers. I often use smaller tubs and jars as drinking cups or toting salad dressing separate to the salad. To snazzy them up a bit, I paint the jar lids. If you’re after more conventional plates and bowls, Greenhome also offers an eco-savvy substitute for paper plates, disposable plastic and styrofoam containers. Alternatively, look to more renewable resources. The EcoSoulife Camper Set (R250) is made from a mixture of biodegradable vegetable-waste matter including bamboo and corn.
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4. Lug home the leftovers
Ditch the clingwrap and use natural alternatives. The Living Eco Beeswax covers (R150 for a pack of three) are self-adhesive and require only the pressure and warmth from your hands to shape and mould around a bowl or to wrap up some sarmies. Depending on the weather, I did find that sometimes it took a lot of rubbing to really stick, but these nifty covers are reusable (they just need to be washed with biodegradable soap) and there are about 15 different ways to use them.
5. Keep it clean
What’s good for a baby is almost always best. These Bam+Boo Bamboo Wipes (R71 for four wipes and a case) are intended for small humans, but big ones can use them too. Reusable and softer on your skin than disposable wipes, this eco-friendly alternative is easy to use. Simply place them into a small sandwich box or bag and pour a little water on them. There are also recipes included for various natural cleaning solutions.
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If the thought of rewashing wet wipes really makes you pale, Pure Beginnings Biodegradable Baby Wipes (R85 for 200 wipes) are antimicrobial, made from organic bamboo fibre and smell great too. The whole Pure Beginnings range is biodegradable and includes bodywash, insect repellent and more.
Words and Photography Melanie van Zyl
Melanie is a professional camper (it’s even on her CV) avid adventurer, possible mountain goat and freelance travel photojournalist. She loves unusual travel, is an Advanced Open Water PADI Diver, Accredited 4×4 Driver and Level 1 Field Guide and only wants to share the thrill of adventure.