How to Keep Your Summer Picnic Sustainable

Summer would not be the same at the Garden without the Whitaker Music Festival, the outdoor concert series presented annually by the Whitaker Foundation on Wednesday evenings from Memorial Day through early August, and regular festival attendees know the festival experience would not be the same without a picnic.

On all Whitaker Music Festival performance nights, Garden visitors are welcome to bring their own picnic suppers, baskets or coolers and enjoy an evening of great music while relaxing on Garden grounds with family and friends.

Whitaker; summer; concert; bethbombara
Beth Bombara performing at the Whitaker Music Festival | Photo by Rebecca Hensiek

But whether enjoyed at the Garden or your local park, picnic food and beverages can produce an unwelcome byproduct—waste. Portable food and drink packaging can pile up in landfills, but there are some simple ways you can ensure that your picnic is waste-free.

Bring reusable water bottles

  • Fill your bottle from the tap before you head out. Add ice cubes (the old-fashioned ones from water or the reusable ones) to keep your water cold.
  • Refill your bottle at drinking fountains, hydration stations or other taps with potable water.

Pack sustainably

  • Use a picnic basket or a reusable grocery bag.
  • Pack your food in reusable containers along with reusable utensils.
  • Use cloth napkins.
  • Consider composting any leftover food waste, such as fruit peels and cores.

Buy local

  • Try some locally raised vegetables, meat, poultry, fruit, etc.
  • Check your local farmer’s market for the finest local grub.
  • Stock your cooler with a local brand of beer, wine or soda.

Be pest-free

  • Try herbal-based mosquito repellents available locally or online.
  • Avoid perfume, scented soaps and body products during mosquito season.

Leave no trace

  • Look around your picnic area and pick up all personal items and trash.
  • Recycle any beverage containers in designated receptacles throughout the park.
  • Bring enough bags to efficiently dispose of any trash.
  • Do not dispose of ice in piles on the grass or planting beds.
  • Leave your picnic area as clean as it was when you arrived.

Respect your surroundings

  • Walk on paved paths and picnic only in designated grassy areas, not in planting beds.
  • Be mindful of the neighbors enjoying the area—both human and animal—especially as you arrive and leave.
  • Dispose of your recycling, compost and trash in the correct receptacles when you locate them.
EventWhitaker Music Festival 2015  Wednesdays
Photo by Kat Niehaus

A glass-free Garden

As a leader in sustainability in St. Louis, the Garden is always looking for new ways to reduce waste and improve the local environment, but safety is just as important to consider when packing your picnic. Like local parks, which have adopted glass-free policies, the Garden encourages Whitaker Music Festival visitors to refrain from including glass among their picnic provisions.

“In an effort to ensure everyone’s safety while maintaining our beautiful grounds, we’re asking that visitors limit the amount of glass they bring into the Garden,” explains Marcie Toucette, Manager of Security and Safety at the Garden. “There are several ways visitors can help us eventually achieve our goal of a glass-free Garden and still have an enjoyable time during their visit to the Whitaker Festival.”

Those alternatives include:

  • Transferring wine or beer from glass bottles to reusable beverage containers, such as insulated carriers, prior to arrival.
  • Purchasing beverages that are pre-packaged in glass alternatives, such as boxed wine. Beer, wine, and even some cocktails are available in cans or tetra packs at most retailers.
  • Enjoying beer, wine, and cocktails available for purchase onsite at the festival in the Catering St. Louis tent.

 

Feature image: Ryan Lay

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