Sustainable Spreads on the 4th

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My treasured, vintage wooden picnic basket will be packed with a  conscience on Friday as my family heads to our annual Fourth of July celebration in downtown Sonoma. Instead of the ubiquitous plastic ware and paper plates that end up in landfills, we’re opting for reusable picnic ware and some great vegan recipes, including a refreshing Island Chiller cocktail.

Looking to make your spread more sustainable?

Well friends, when it comes to a picnic, I always share. Here’s a blueprint for the red, white and greening of your 4th!

-The Set-Up

If you’re headed to the park or the beach, cotton blankets or patchwork quilts make for ideal intimate seating if you can’t score a picnic table or don’t own folding chairs. Check out the cute cotton throw at Orvis ($69). I personally loathe the vinyl spectator chairs with drink holders used by those professional picnic people (the same folks who when floating on canoes never crash into the trees). If you’re gathering in your backyard, then you don’t have to worry about seating. Instead, focus on a reusable tablecloth that you can style with red flowers from your local farmers’ market.

-The Picnic Ware

Avoid paper and plastic and opt for reusable bamboo bowls and either biodegradable or compostable utensils and containers, both available at Branch. I use retro green trays with compartments from Restoration Hardware that are easy to perch on your lap. It’s also a good idea to go with cloth napkins, despite the allure of the patriotic patterns on disposable napkins lining the aisles of supermarket shelves. If you don’t own cloth ones you like, try the fetching garden snail motif napkins ($26) at Ortolon.

-The Vittles

Have you ever tried a vegan stars and stripes American flag pie? It’s the sparkler on the great vegan Fourth of July barbecue menu  suggested by Vegan Paradise. The offerings include marinated tofu fingers and grilled tempeh steaks instead of fatty meats which are bad for the air. The fatty drippings release carcinogenic hydrocarbons that can spoil our fun. Shew, you yucky toxins! I also love the grilled veggies and corn and the Island Chiller cocktail made with mango, tofu and coconut milk. There’s even a recipe for nutty chocolate bananas. Crazy!

Non vegans will find great gourmet picnic recipe tips at Fine Living including Caprese Bites ( a portable Italian salad on skewers), pesto chicken wraps, New Jersey Potato Salad and Lemon Bars. Have a look.

-The Grape

For grazers content with a simple wine and cheese affair, you can have a delightful picnic overnighted to you from Diamond  Organics that includes red wine from an organic coastal vineyard, cheese from free range cattle raised with an ocean view, a fresh baguette baked in Santa Cruz and colorful organic fruit ($99). For a little extra, you can add wild smoked salmon and an organic bouquet.

-The Entertainment

Follow all of this by sneaking in a good post-parade eco nap (very good for my environment) so that you’re rested and ready to sit under the stars for a fireworks display (not too much in the green department, there). Don’t forget the good green bug juice, like Greenhead Insect Repellent at Stop Biting Me.

Happy birthday, America.

Image: dcJohn

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Luanne Bradley

Luanne Sanders Bradley is the West coast Editor at EcoSalon and currently resides in San Francisco, California.