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WITH ONLY SO MANY days of summer left, now is the perfect time to get out in the beautiful weather for lunch. Be it a quick hike or a day in the park, picnics are a fun, relaxing way to be one with nature.

But so many well-meaning picnics end with a pile of Ziploc bags, paper plates and plastic forks headed to a landfill. Take some easy steps to make your afternoon outside just as green as the grass you’re lying in.

Rid your pantry of those wasteful, not to mention flimsy, plastic utensils and invest in a set of biodegradable bamboo plates and utensils. Made by Bambu, these dishes are free of bleach, dyes, pesticides and other chemicals, FDA-approved food-safe and made from 100 percent organically grown bamboo. The plates come in packs of eight, utensils in packs of 24, for $10 each, and can be reused if you drag them home. If not, they biodegrade in four to six months, so you can feel good about limiting your waste. Find them at .

Whether it’s coffee you’d like to keep hot, or juice you’d like to keep cool, insulated cups are always handy to have on the go. But because we know those plastic foam cups are such an environmental no-no, what can we turn to? How about a plant-based compostable product from Repurpose Compostables? These BPA-free cups will compost in a matter of months. Find a variety at
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Don’t drag along a roll of single-use paper towels that will just be pitched into the trash. Reduce waste and bring a personal-sized PackTowel from Cascade Designs. This lightweight, packable towel absorbs four times its weight in water, then wrings completely dry. Bring one along in your picnic basket, just in case. Find them at REI.

Don’t want to scrounge up all of these elements yourself? has an eco-friendly picnic basket for two that incorporates all of these ideas in one stop. The dye-free, cotton-lined willow basket comes with a set of bamboo plates and utensils, a bamboo cutting board and two washable napkins for about $100.

A basket, napkins and compostable dishware alone do not make a picnic. If you’ve gone this far, why not make sure your meal is natural and organic, too?

Take pickles, for instance. Add a little kick to potato salad or a crunch to your sandwich with Lynnae’s Gourmet Pickles from Tacoma. Free of preservatives, dyes and other chemicals, these pickles come from a 100-year-old secret family recipe. Try the original Mrs. Pickles, a sweet-and-sour dill, or Hot Mamas, the original recipe with a twist, for $9 a jar. For a list of retail locations or to order online, visit .

And for that moment where juice and water just aren’t cutting it anymore, kick back on your all-natural picnic blanket with a certified organic beer in hand. Seattle’s Elliott Bay Brewing Company has you covered with 11 organic beers available year-round and more cycling through seasonally. These eco-friendly sips aren’t available just anywhere, but hit one of the brewery’s three locations and fill up a reusable half-gallon growler to tote on your trip. Bringing friends along? Check out keg sizes at .

Grab some more local food items from your area farmers market and you have a green outing to enjoy before you’re cooped up indoors for another Pacific Northwest winter.

Paige Collins is a Seattle Times news producer.