How to organise a plastic-free picnic!

A great way to organise something social with your local group and engage lots of people in your community about your campaign is to have a plastic-free picnic.
 
St Albans Friends of the Earth held one in April, and for the summer, group coordinator Amanda Yorweth has put together her top tips on organising a brilliant plastic-free event.
 
1)     Pick your area. One of the first things you’ll need to do is find the perfect spot for your picnic. It’s a good idea to choose a popular, central place that’s easy to access. We decided to hold our picnic in a park area within a housing estate. The trustees that look after the area were supportive and put up posters for us, so it’s always worth seeing if there are any community groups attached to the venue who might be able to help. Doing it there also provided a good way to engage with a different group of people. 
 
2)    Publicity is key. We did lots on Facebook, Twitter, local radio and newspaper. We asked people to come and join the plastic-free fun, and asked that people try to avoid using single-use plastic (but we wouldn't be checking). We suggested people check on social media in case of bad weather, but in the end it turned out lovely!
 
3)    Think strategically. A picnic is a lot of fun, but it can also help you win your campaign. Think through what it is you’re hoping to achieve at the event – is it signatures on a petition, raising awareness generally or getting your MP on board?
 
4)    Invite a local decision maker to join you. Related to number 3, we asked the local Mayor along, and he was great, encouraging everyone and promising renewed efforts from the council. You could invite your local MP or people from the council, or for example if you’re trying to get cafes to go straw-free, why not invite the owners along to join the fun?
 
5)    Plan some activities. So that there was plenty for people to do we had cricket and football, and invited along some local businesses like a lady who sells disposable crockery made of leaves. A lovely local lady brought her Story Tent and kept the under 5s enthralled and the park people lent us their Splat the Rat and quoits games.
 
6)    Take photos and invite the media. Your picnic could be a great way to get some local media coverage for your campaign. So don’t forget to invite them along or send in a press release. Take some good quality photos and send them in if they can’t send a photographer down.
 
7)    Take a signup sheet. You’ll be meeting lots of great and enthusiastic new people at your picnic – so make sure they sign up to stay involved with your group. And don’t forget to contact them as soon as possible afterwards to tell them how they can get involved with your group.
 
About 70 people came along to our picnic, many of whom hadn't been engaged in the environmental movement before, and it was great to see how creatively they'd avoided plastics.
 
If you’re looking for some tips on what to take to the picnic to keep it plastic-free, check out our blog. Or if you've done an event and would like to write a section for us please email plastics@foe.co.uk.