Preserving the planet this picnic season

With the blossom a-bloomin’ and the sun a-shinin’, is it any wonder that the parks of Oxford have bustled with ray worshipping youths convincing themselves that they can, of course, finish their essay outside and whack out a problem sheet whilst their toes languidly graze the Thames’ (semi-) inviting tipple?

Slimy with sun cream and sheltered with shades, the masses roll out, having raided the fridges of Tesco for any variation of humous that they can get their poor overworked paws on. Prepared to save our own skin with our precautionary sun-worshipping rituals, we leave one crucial focus off of our benefits list: the planet.

The picnic season may be the blissful time for indulging in copious packets of crisps, quick and easy pasta boxes, and the endless bottles of lemonade needed to quench our thirst, but the real brunt is not borne by our own wallets. If you have strolled through Christ Church Meadows as the sun heads down and us picnickers head home, you’ll know what I’m referring to. It is almost impossible to find a bin that doesn’t have plastic bags filled with yet more plastic packaging laying beside it. Cliché as it may seem, I think it is appropriate to now try and scaremonger some resolutions through statistics: approximately 1 million sea birds die from plastic per year, plus a further 100,000 marine creatures. 46,000 pieces of plastic/ square mile of ocean. 13,000-15,000 pieces of plastic are dumped daily in the ocean. Plastic bags do not break down. 2/3 of the world’s fish stocks suffer from plastic ingestion. Though this grim reality may seem worlds away from our picnics in the park, the thoughtless and needless plastic consumption that we practice daily is not an exception to the rule, and we can change our picnic habits in order to reduce plastic usage.

You have to question whether that momentary indulgence is worth the long-term consequences

It all starts with just switching up your daily routine fractionally: the easiest and most important advice that anyone and everyone should follow is to use! reusable! bags! Not only do you save yourself a pretty penny (or 10), but you are saving a couple of fishies’ lives whilst doing so. Next up, invest in a water bottle: NOT an Evian one that you fill up for a few days and then chuck when it gets a bit gross around the lid (I see you), but one that will last. These will also save you dollar for days – you can buy these for less money than a bottle of water in Tesco, so there’s nothing stopping you. That iced coffee you’ve been craving will be as cold in your Keep Cup as it would be in a plastic one.

Oh, and that plastic straw? In the top 10 items of rubbish found during beach clean ups. You have to question whether that momentary indulgence is worth the long-term consequences. With high street restaurant chains finally upping their game and the government set to ban single use straws by next year, surely we can do the same?