What... (i.e. camp, dance class, birthday party)
Pick a NYMetroParents Region: All Regions   Manhattan    Brooklyn    Queens    Westchester    Rockland   Fairfield    Nassau    Suffolk  




     Home  >  Articles  > HOW TO GUIDES
by Leslie Garrett


   I would watch them arrive from my family's cottage overlooking the beach. Like a parade of ants, they would begin their march, loaded down with everything they needed for a picnic lunch at the lake. Coolers, lawn chairs, beach blankets, sunbrellas, sand toys, perhaps a kite.

   As the sun began its descent downward, they would depart — and I would bear witness to the mess they left behind. Pop bottles, food wrappers, a punctured PVC water toy…often even a used diaper.

   I don't begrudge these picnickers their day at the beach. Summer picnics — whether at a beach, a park or your own backyard — are wonderful, warm-weather experiences. Less wonderful are the heaps of garbage they often generate. So here's a guide to a summer picnic that's easy on the earth:

Getting there: Try to bike, walk, hike or take public transportation. Less pollution, less greenhouse gas emissions that lead to increased climate change. More exercise for you, and a better chance to explore your community.

 Food: Stick to in-season fruits and veggies from a local farm so more fossil fuel wasn't expended getting the food to your picnic basket. Perhaps start with a trek to your farmer's market to stock up on goodies. If you're a carnivore, make meat a smaller part of your meal and make it organic, meaning the animal was raised more humanely without antibiotics or genetically-modified feed. Better for you, better for the planet.

 What to pack: Avoid disposables and opt for use-them-again dishes, cutlery and storage containers. Invest in a picnic basket (you can purchase Fair Trade picnic baskets online — Google "fair trade picnic baskets" or check out Ten Thousand Villages stores). Cheaper for you in the long run, fair for workers, less garbage for the landfills.

 Protecting yourself: Sunscreens and insect repellent are often a necessary part of any summer get-together. Stick to products that are made with fewer chemicals and toxins; aim for all-natural ingredients. Some popular sunscreen brands include Aubrey's Organics, Burt's Bees, and Kiss My Face. Natrapel has an insect repellent that's DEET-free and effective for all but the most mosquito-infested areas. Other popular brands include Bite Blocker, All-Terrain Herbal Armor, and Burt's Bees Lemongrass Insect Lotion.

 Protecting habitat: While exploring is part of the fun of playing in nature, be careful to teach children (and pets!) to respect the flora and fauna you encounter. Encourage children to admire flowers, but not to pick them; be fascinated by critters but don't harass them. Pack binoculars so kids can feel like they're getting up close and personal without stressing any of the creatures they spot. Stay on paths, take only photographs and leave with only memories.

 Educate yourself and your family: Read books about clouds and weather, pack a bug or bird book to identify creatures you might see, and allow kids their own journals to record the day.

 Pack it in, pack it out: Be sure to take away any garbage you generate and take home any recyclables. And don't hesitate to pick up after those who won't pick up after themselves. After all, we're parents. We should be used to it.

LESLIE GARRETT is a mother of three, and author of "The Virtuous Consumer: Your Essential Shopping Guide for a Better, Kinder, Healthier World (and one that our children will thank us for)". Visit her at www.virtuousconsumer.com

Did you find this helpful?

Get more useful parenting info weekly
Sign-up for newsletter

More HOW TO GUIDES Articles

Three Tips for a Happier Holiday
How To Help Your Kids Succeed in Sports
How To Help Your Child Tackle Homework
How to Keep Kids Focused in School When Spring Fever Hits
How To Throw an 'Up' Birthday Party for Kids

Be a good fellow parent and share this with a friend who would be interested
Email Friend

Local HOW TO GUIDES Sponsors

Kids R Cookin
Imagine coming home to a dinner your kids cooked. ...

Play N Trade Video Games
Visit our website for store locations

Come visit the hottest video game store on Long I...
NY Kids Club
182 Henry St
Brooklyn Heights, NY

Strongwater Swim Academy
Locations in Queens and Brooklyn
The mission of Strongwater Swim Academy is to prov...

Bounce U Stratford
305 Hathaway Dr
Stratford, CT
At BounceU of Stratford, we specialize in perfect ...
See Our HOW TO GUIDES Directory

local zones


Nassau cont.


Suffolk cont.


Westchester cont.



Rockland cont.


Queens cont.


Brooklyn cont.


Copyright 2015 NY Metro Parents Magazine Site Design: THE VOICE