Memorial Day is significant for a few reasons. First and foremost, it’s a day to remember the brave souls who died serving in our armed forces. It’s also the unofficial start of summer and a three-day weekend that begs for outdoor dining. Whether you’re barbecuing in the backyard, grilling by the pool, or picnicking in the park, these 6 tips will help you throw an eco-friendly al fresco feast.

1. Pick the right plate

This goes for bowls, cups and utensils, too. When eating outdoors, you need sturdy tableware that can stand up to all manner of sloppy and saucy foods without leaking or bending. Instead of plastic products, which end up clogging our landfills and polluting our oceans, choose Repurpose’s line of compostable plates, bowls, cups and utensils. They’re super strong and made from renewable plants, including corn, sugar cane and bamboo.

2. Opt for local and organic fare

Organic foods produced without toxic chemicals protects soil and wildlife and promotes biodiversity. Local foods don’t need to travel far, which means less CO2 ends up in our atmosphere, and buying them helps support small, neighborhood farms. If you’re mixing conventional and organic in your picnic basket, make sure these 12 fruits and veggies are always organic.

3. Repel bugs naturally

We love everything about eating outside—except the bugs. But don’t douse yourself with DEET. The pungent-smelling repellent can cause skin irritation and has been shown to disrupt the nervous system of mice. Look for natural soy-based repellents or ones containing lemon eucalyptus oil. Both ingredients have been shown to be as effective as DEET in warding off those biting bugs.

4. Leave behind the lighter fluid

Protect your eyebrows and the planet by ditching the lighter fluid when cooking with charcoal. Lighter fluid is made from toxic petroleum concentrates, which pollute the air and leave a residue on your food. Dust off your campfire badge and use a charcoal chimney starter instead. It costs about $20 at hardware stores and provides a simple way to fire up the grill without harsh chemicals.

5. Don’t tread on the flowers

By all means have fun and be free when you’re outside, but always be respectful of nature. Stay on paths and trails, keep your kids from frolicking in the flowers and don’t let your pups chase critters. Also, don’t feed wildlife. Our food is not their food and the animals lose their natural fear of people and cars, which can open them up to harm.

6. Take out your trash

Leave no trace is a cardinal rule of outdoor ethics. When prepping for a picnic, remember to pack your own trash bags to haul away food, garbage and recyclables. Bring them along even if you’re headed to a spot with community trashcans and recycle bins, which can fill up fast on popular weekends.

 

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