Leiston Abbey

Sustainable Summer

Food & Drink

By Niobe Shaw

Summer’s here, and the sunshine, long evenings and happy moods make it the perfect time for a party or gathering. As parks fill with chequered blankets, patio furniture plays host to al fresco meals and barbeques fill the air with that smoky summer scent, it’s easy to forget how unsustainable the summer party season can be. Here, we share our top tips for keeping your summer picnic or gathering as green
as can be.

Food, glorious food

Let’s face it: everyone’s coming for the food! British produce is a highlight in the summer and buying locally is a great way to ensure your food hasn’t travelled much further than any of your guests. Norfolk and Suffolk are full of farmers’ markets and delis offering the best of our counties’ produce: BBQ sausages, deliciously full sandwiches, fresh and easy salads … and of course, no summer party is complete without strawberries and meringues. With food costs rising, think carefully about how many people you’re hosting and how much they can actually eat, which will reduce food
waste too. Do six people really need
24 bread rolls?

Think about drinks

On feel-good summer nights, the drinks are usually flowing! Choose drinks in larger containers (yes, magnums will work!), and use glasses you already own rather than plastic cups. If individual vessels are needed, aluminium cans are far more eco-friendly than glass and plastic bottles, thanks to the speed and ease of recycling them.

Choose to reuse

An obvious way to limit the waste created at a party or picnic is by opting for reusable items over disposable ones. If you would prefer not to use breakable crockery outdoors, you can find lightweight, eco-conscious options to suit any summer banquet table or blanket. Bamboo plates are a great option for picnics or barbeques, while reusable glass or disposable paper straws are far more sustainable than their plastic counterparts. 

It might mean more washing up, but choosing these reusable options is far kinder to the planet, and they’ll look better in your photos than the disposable versions too!

Dressing to impress

Dressing your outdoor area for a party needn’t be unsustainable: the garden is the ideal place for natural decorations! Use old wine bottles as vases for buds or to hold candles, and why not create a summer wreath? Scour charity shops or second-hand stalls for vintage tablecloths or invest in good-quality cloth napkins and fabrics to dress your table. Solar-powered string lights will keep your eco-party going past sunset, too.

Green gifts

If you’re heading to a summer party
and don’t want to turn up empty-handed, why not cut a few flowers from your own garden to take to the host? It’s a simple, sustainable and thoughtful gift that
shows you care.

The Picnic 

Staying eco-friendly when eating outdoors can be trickier than hosting people at home, but it needn’t be! As well as using some of the tips above, here are some which are more specific to a picnic (try saying that after a few glasses of Pimms!):

Ditch the cling film

Pack up your food in reusable boxes, old jam jars or beeswax wraps.

Choose your spot wisely 

Rather than driving somewhere, is there a local park you could walk to instead? Or, if you’re looking for a bit more of an adventure, jump on public transport and enjoy dining on the sand, on the broads or in a new area of countryside.

Remember your bottle 

In warmer weather, you’ll want plenty to drink. Fill up a couple of reusable water bottles to save money and stay hydrated.

Leave nothing behind

If you’re picnicking in a park, beach, woodland or natural area, it’s best to take your rubbish with you. Pack a couple of compostable bags to pop your food in and add it to a compost bin or food caddy back home. 

With these easy shifts and tweaks, your summer party will be a sustainable success. We just hope the rain stays away!

Snape Maltings Napkins

Investing in some cloth napkins will give your picnic or party set up a bit more class, and they’re far greener than the disposable option.


Partner in Wine
Tumblers and Bottle

Designed for enjoying a glass of wine while outdoors, these bottles (which fit a full 75cl) and tumblers keep your vino at your desired temperature – ideal if you’re taking a bottle out for the day!


Weaver Green Blankets

Created from around 300 recycled plastic bottles, these beautiful blankets are machine washable and can be used both indoors and outdoors, making them handy for keeping party guests warm as the sun begins to set.


Bev’s Beeswax Food Wraps 

Bev’s wraps are a great alternative for wrapping sandwiches and pastries which can be used again and again!


Claudia’s Buntings

This super cute bunting will look beautiful hung along your garden fence or edging a table, and can be used time and time again.



Izzi Rainey Enamel Mugs

Izzi’s gorgeous mugs, designed and manufactured in Norfolk, are perfect for picnics and outdoor drinks.


Gnaw Chocolate

No picnic is complete without chocolate, and Gnaw’s delicious bars come in compostable packaging and a variety
of flavours.