Did you know that June 18th is International Picnic Day? We’ve summed up some eco-friendly picnic tips before, but we thought that we’d take this opportunity to remind you of all of the good, healthy and stress-reducing reasons to take some time to get outside and eat. After all, what’s not to love about a holiday that celebrates doing something instead of buying something?
The Benefits of a Picnic
Do we really need to tell you that almost all Americans spend too much time indoors? We probably don’t. But more importantly, it’s a trend that is increasing instead of decreasing. According to one study, young people now spend an average of seven hours and thirty-eight minutes daily for indoor media use (video games, TV, computers). That’s almost fifty-three hours weekly – or over two full days of the week!
The downside of that is fairly epic if you add it all up. Not only does it mean that it’s likely people are getting less and less essential Vitamin-D, it also means less exercise and less healthy individuals. Those are the obvious drawbacks. Increased energy use to run all of those media items that you or others are using indoors is another. But a final, and potentially most important one, is an increasing lack of connection to nature or the planet. We can’t expect people to want to save the planet if they don’t feel a deep relationship to it.
Whether you’re concerned about too much time indoors yourself or whether you’re a parent trying to break a bad indoor habit with a child, incorporating picnics into your life is a great way to reduce indoor time and connect with nature. We all have to eat – so let’s get outside and do it.
You Can Picnic No Matter What Your Plans Are
No matter where you are when you eat, picnics are possible:
At Work? You’re probably trapped indoors for eight to ten hours a day when you’re at work. Skip the cafeteria and pack a lunch (it will make you healthier and save you money!) and head outside to eat at lunch time. If your workplace doesn’t have an outdoor area nearby, start a group to lobby management to create one for the benefit of employee health.
Live In a City? We’ve heard urban dwellers bemoan their lack of ability to picnic, but we’re calling shenanigans on that. Urban environments may be mostly concrete, but with a tiny bit of research you can almost always find a rooftop garden, park or indoor atrium that allows you to get your outdoor picnic fix on.
At Home with a Yard? Of course, this is the ideal situation. Put your yard to work. It’s there to be enjoyed, not just manicured and looked at. Lay down the picnic blanket or use your patio furniture. Better yet, let others enjoy it and turn your picnic into a social event.
On the Road? Being on the road can be the ideal picnic venue. Just find a good looking stop and pull over. You may even want to consider getting lost!
Quick Eco-Picnic Tips
Remember, though, just because you’re eating outside it doesn’t mean that you’re naturally being kind to the environment. Here are some quickies to keep in mind.
– Pack Your Food In Reusables: Try to avoid stopping at the local store and buying single serve takeout food in plastic containers. Make your food at home from sustainable sources and pack it in containers you’ll use again.
– Speaking of Reusables: Use them! For beverages, flatware, dishes … everything! Don’t turn a picnic into an excuse for waste.
– Turn the Electronics Off: You’re enjoying nature. Enjoy its sounds, too. Take a break from radios, cell phones, laptops and tablets. Not only will you benefit in stress and noise clutter reduction, you’ll also save some energy.
– Recycle What You Use: It may mean that you need to carry what you used back from your picnic site to a place with recycling drop-offs, but it’s worth it. Trust us.
We’ve talked enough! Every moment that you’re reading this is a moment that you are not out enjoying a picnic. Even if it’s not International Picnic Day, it’s always a great day to eat outside!
Photo Credit: Paul and Christa via Flickr