Picnicking in an Environmentally Responsible Way

by Annika Sampson

A Toward Zero Waste picnic in the Fairhaven Village Green.
photo: Sustainable Connections’ Toward Zero Waste team

Dear Sasquatch,

This time of year is amazing! The longer days and gorgeous sunshine make me want to get outside and gather with people I love. I know Whatcom County is full of awesome picnic spots, but my question for you is — where are your favorite spots to picnic? And, how can I picnic in an environmentally responsible way? I often have different types of waste left over after a picnic, and I don’t know how to properly dispose of it. Any advice you could share would be much appreciated! I want to celebrate the season while minimizing my impact! 

Sustainable Snacker

Dear Sustainable Snacker,

You’re truly a snacker after my own heart! And, while I don’t have to worry about food waste myself (I just eat berries and occasionally a pine cone when the mood strikes), I understand the inclination to want to be kind to the community and land you love! Your question comes at the perfect time, because two Bellingham parks have new compost and recycling options — perfect for a picnic! 

There are two spots that come to mind, and both are conveniently located near restaurants and food trucks that offer plastic-free to-go options! I highly recommend a visit — and a picnic — to either The Portal in downtown Bellingham or the Village Green in Fairhaven.

The Portal is a colorful, seasonal container village on Bellingham’s Downtown Waterfront. The Sustainable Connections Toward Zero Waste team started working with the Port of Bellingham in 2022 to increase composting and recycling rates. Their goal was to support visitors (like you!) and businesses at The Portal in correctly sorting waste to keep compostable and recyclable materials out of the landfill. 

And, that goal has been successful, which is great to see! The 2022 season saw an average diversion rate of 53 percent of The Portal’s waste from landfills. That’s 7,184 cubic feet (about twice the volume of a one-car garage), which is enough to fill over 1,260 standard bathtubs! And, you can be a part of that! The vendors at The Portal — including Selkie Scoop, Our Kitchen, Rain or Shine Riviera Club, and a rotating roster of the food trucks you know and love (and new ones to discover). 

The Village Green in Fairhaven is a beautiful space to enjoy a picnic as well, and has a brand new three-stream waste station to help you reduce your waste and impact. Luckily, it’s also located in the heart of downtown Fairhaven, and there are plenty of amazing options for single-use plastics-free takeout. I recommend Fairhaven Poke, Colophon Cafe, Avenue, Shirlee Bird, and Cafe Blue!

I hope this helps you have the picnic of your dreams, Sustainable Snacker! Don’t forget to bring your own utensils!

Sincerely, Sasquatch


Annika Sampson is a Sustainable Connections staff member.


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