Spring has officially sprung and although Wales might throw in the odd downpour, the weather is looking up. As the warm, sunny days become more frequent, there’s nothing better than getting outdoors and enjoying a picnic. Picture this: a beautiful day, all your picnic goodies at the ready and your favourite people around you. With all the beautiful green spots in Cardiff, what else could you want?

This year, we at Cardiff Life are striving to Picnic with Purpose. Champion sustainability, reduce your waste and even participate in a community event like The Big Lunch to take your al fresco ‘lunching’ to the next level. 

One of the best parts of a picnic is getting together with friends or family, spending quality time with those you love and taking the time out of your day to enjoy the company of others. Eden Project Communities understand the power of the picnic and have announced the news of this year’s Big Lunch. Taking place on the 1st and 2nd of June 2024, The Big Lunch is an annual, nationwide get-together where millions take part to enjoy food, friendship and fun, made possible by The National Lottery. Your Big Lunch could be anything from a sprawling street party, a park picnic or a back-garden barbeque – however you do it, you’ll be making a positive difference to your community. 

As well as being an incredible opportunity to enjoy yourself, The Big Lunch also strives to unite people, reducing loneliness around neighbourhoods and instilling a sense of community. In 2023, more than 14 million people took part in The Big Lunch and research shows that 65% of those who did feel less lonely as a result, 75% said they feel a stronger sense of community spirit and the same percentage said they are more likely to give time to help neighbours or good causes. This year, The Big Lunch is back and better than ever with a super focus on sustainability. Pairing with WWF, it’s going to be the greenest Big Lunch yet.

Lindsey Brummitt, Eden Project programme director responsible for The Big Lunch said: “Since 2010, we’ve been bringing people together to create happier and healthier communities thanks to National Lottery players, who raise £30 million each week for good causes right across the UK… From great planet-friendly food to share, upcycled decorations to make, street games to play and tips for what you can grow or sow in your street – there are so many ways to join in.”

The Big Lunch has an incredible online bank of resources to help you get involved in The Big Lunch 2024. From advice on how to overcome ‘invite anxiety’ when you’re inviting your neighbours, to resources on helping you secure insurance if you’re planning a larger event, they’ve got you covered. There’s even a great guide on how to weather-proof your plans, just in case the pesky Welsh weather looks like it might hinder your lunch. Additionally, The Big Lunch website is home to some amazing resources and sustainability tips for every day. This includes an incredible list of ‘52 Sustainable Little Swaps’ that can help you to be more eco-conscious, whether this be at your Big Lunch event or just from day to day. Oh, and of course, they have plenty of ideas for games, entertainment and fun! 

Talking about food, some of the UK’s favourite chefs, cooks and bakers will be sharing some of their mouthwatering recipes to turn your picnic up a notch. These recipes will be affordable, enjoyable, eco-friendly and most importantly, incredibly tasty! Big Zuu, Joe Wicks, Manon Lagreve, Syabira Yusoff (GBBO) and Suzanne Mulholland (The Batch Lady) are just a few of those who will be whipping up delicious dishes for you to try at home and share with your community.

But, you don’t have to be at a Big Lunch event to carry forward their aim and message. Throughout the spring and summer, picnics are a great way to get together with friends, family and neighbours and build meaningful connections while enjoying the outdoors. Don’t forget the golden rules: leave no mess, show some love to nature and try to keep it green!

Need some inspiration on where to settle? Beautiful Bute Park, Roath Park or Llandaff Fields are classics for Cardiff picnics. Or, you could venture down to Cardiff Bay to have your picnic on the waterfront. There’s an endless selection of where to have a perfect picnic in Cardiff, so make the most of the natural beauty and green spaces in the city. If you’re going ‘Coronation street party style’, whip out the deck chairs and bunting, and let your street come alive.

Credit: Eden Project Communities

Let’s face it, the real highlight of any picnic is the food. But, with all the stuff we bring along with us, there’s a risk of using too many single-use plastics and creating unnecessary waste. Thanks to the Caru Cymru campaign, we’ve got some handy tips to ensure your picnic stays waste-free and Cardiff’s beauty stays intact.

Start by considering simple swaps. Instead of buying flimsy paper plates and disposable utensils that never taste that great anyway, go for reusable options. Not only is this more eco-friendly, but it’s also lighter on your wallet in the long haul. Reusable water bottles, coffee cups, utensils, containers and plates all play a part in cutting down unnecessary waste. If you do need to throw things away afterwards, make sure to bring a bag along to collect your rubbish and dispose of it properly. Don’t forget: leave no trace, clean up all waste, minimise your impact on the environment and leave your favourite picnic spot just as beautiful as you found it.

Making your food at home in advance is a great way of eliminating a lot of single-use plastic waste. Beeswax and soy wraps are all the rage right now for storing food, but cleaned-out jam jars for dips and snacks or even a container from a takeaway will do the job just as well! Also, with reusable packaging and Tupperware, taking any leftovers home will be much easier and will reduce your food waste.

But, if you don’t fancy making everything from scratch, another option is to purchase food from the brilliant independent shops and businesses in Cardiff. For example, the popular Italian restaurant Giardini de Sorrento offers picnic hampers. Choose between the classic Italian picnic box or a vegetarian or vegan option. You might even just fall victim to some of their delicious mini cannoli – mini crisp Italian pastry tubes filled with sweet creamy Ricotta cheese in lots of tasty flavours. To make your picnic extra special, you can even opt to add a bottle of wine or delicious Italian Prosecco.

Still in need of some tips on how to keep your picnics as eco-friendly as possible? Have a look at the Caru Cymru campaign to find out more about how we can Keep Wales Tidy and maximise the sustainability of your picnics with purpose.

So, now that you’re armed with the best picnic tips and tricks, as well as hopefully being inspired to partake in The Big Lunch, the only thing is to shake out the picnic blanket, fill up the hamper and get out there. Happy picnicking!

Author WCS

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