At The Picnic Shop, we really care about the environment. We make every effort to ensure our business is as eco-friendly as possible, and we are also keen to do this in our family times too.
Days out are a massive part of family life. If you're reading this post, it's probably not because you're planning on sitting in front of the telly all weekend with your little ones! You're probably also fairly environmentally aware too. BUT... there is usually more we can do, and we're here with a few little ideas that may help you plan even more planet-friendly days out.
1. Explore your local area
Is there woodland or parks near you? Give them a good explore. Take the bikes, scooters, skateboards, if you want to try something different. Geo-caching is also a great way to do something different in the area you live in. You don't always have to try somewhere new, just try something new, somewhere familiar!
2. Take the train or bus
Children love travelling on the train or bus. We often take a train somewhere for an hour or two, then eat lunch on the train home, reaching home perfectly fed and tired, ready for a nap! It doesn't have to be a new city or the seaside (although they are both fab days out!) but just look up a stop and see if there's a little park, woods, bike trail, or museum nearby.
3. Take your own snacks and drinks
I know this sounds obvious, but up-level it a bit... a hot drink in a thermos is so much nicer than just water. And you can make your own biscuits or muffins - set yourself a challenge of just using what you already have in the kitchen, and get the children involved. It will make you day out even more exciting if you know there's a handmade treat half way through, especially without any plastic wrapping!
4. Go litter-picking
If there is any way to make your littlies more aware of the importance of not throwing rubbish, it's taking them little picking. You can buy litter pickers (of course they are made of plastic so treat them well so that they last!) and children love using them. They, and you, will suddenly notice how much rubbish is thrown out. Honestly, that and a few stories of sad little rabbits getting their foot caught in a crisp packet and your children are guaranteed to be little-picking-evangelists. And you will get SO many thank yous from passers by, you'll feel great by the end of it!
5. Buy your outdoors equipment second-hand
If you're an outdoorsy family, you'll probably find you own a waterproof, warm winter coat, puddlesuit, fleece-lined puddle suit, wellies, walking boots, winter boots, gloves, hats, scarves, and the list will go on for a while. All this can be bought on eBay, gumtree, facebook marketplace etc. There are a lot of families who buy this stuff then find they use it once or twice (understandable in some ways... who would be mad enough to spend a day traipsing around in the mud with three children when they could be cosied up inside with a film and popcorn!) and it's all a bargain online. And you are saving it from going to landfill.
6. Start a collection
Is your family a fan of gift shops? Well say goodbye to spending money on plastic pencil sharpeners/flags/bouncy balls etc and say hello to a collection! We were out on a walk with friends recently and their little girl liked to take a well-chosen stone home each time they went out and then paint it when they got home. My little boy has a collection of sticks (useful for the firepit that evening!) that I end up carrying with me every time we walk the dog. We once collected leaves and twigs to make a collage with. All more eco-friendly than a gift shop, and totally free!
7. Stay warm and dry
If you are feeling cold and wet, you will be more tempted to treat yourself to a takeaway hot drink, or to bail on your next big day out! So take all the warm clothing you need, but also invest in a waterproof 'picnic blanket'. They're not really blankets at all... more of a waterproof sheet, but you can pop it down on a bench if you need a sit down rather than ended up with memorable damp clothes!
8. Be prepared for getting home
Do you know the best treat when you get home? Walking through the door to the smell of a slow-cooked meal. Slow-cookers use very little energy, you can throw some meat and veg in before you leave, and return to dinner! This way you won't be tempted to pick up a takeaway/fast food/a ready meal dinner on the way home just because it's a bit too close to dinner time.
So there you go. 8 ways to make your days out more eco-friendly. They take a bit of planning and prep, but which bit of family life doesn't?! And it's all in a good cause.