Packing An Eco-Savvier Picnic

With a few hikes and outdoor concerts on the horizon, the time has come for me to upgrade my picnic supplies.

By that, I mean that I want to find greener alternatives to the paper plates, plastic forks and glasses, aluminum foil, sandwich baggies, and paper sacks that I currently tote along.

A little surfing around on the Internet led me to an array of products designed for eco-friendy lunches. They may be intended for eating leftovers at the office, but they'll work equally well at a picnic on the beach or a concert under the stars. Best of all, I won't feel a pang of guilt for tossing out all that paper and plastic afterwards.

Take these reuseable sandwich wraps that morph into placemats. Made by Wrap-n-Mat, this simple-but-brillant product is an inexpensive, lightweight, washable "cloth" that folds around a sandwich during transport, and then opens into a placemat when you're eating. They come in lots of patterns, including a cute "Eco" print.

I'm also pretty impressed with the To-Go-Ware Reuseable Bamboo Utensil Set, complete with a spoon, fork, knife, and even chopsticks that roll up in a chic carryng case. The individual bamboo flatware sets are good-looking enough to convince me never to use a plastic fork again. Another option might be Sigg's stainless steel cutlery set, featuring eating utensils that fold out, Swiss-army knife style. It'd be perfect for a picnic or camping trip.

When it comes to a modern picnic basket, there are countless options. You can pick lead-free insulated bags in lots of cool patterns or colors. (some of them can even double as coolers.) I also like these bento style boxes from Laptop Lunches, with several compartments to keep salsa from leaking into fruit salad. Even more compartmentalized are these stainless steel tiered lunch boxes that stack like Indian tiffin boxes.

My pick will probably be made with Neoprene, the material used to make wetsuits. I've been a fan of the Built NY line since I bought one of their wine sleeves a few years ago (stops the bottle from bumping around in the car.) I really like their new Gourmet Getaway bags. Like the lunch totes, these are washable, and insulate hot and cold foods for four hours. But they're sized for road trips and come in lots of fun, splashy designs.

I'm willing to splurge on a few of these products for one simple reason: I want to enjoy the great outdoors -- not worry about the damage I do to it.

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