Better Picnic Gear

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Outdoor parties, picnics and hikes can have a downside: most disposable products are not eco-friendly. Here are picnic geart alternatives to help you travel lightly, enjoy nature and keep your gathering green.

Biodegradable plates
These sturdy plates are made from a natural byproduct of sugar refining. When the picnic’s over, just toss them in the compost pile. $21 for 125; Treecycle.

Compostable tableware
These plastic utensils, made from potato starch, are 100 percent tree- and petroleum-free. $6 for 50 forks, knives or spoons; Real Goods.

Compostable cups and straws
Drink up, confident you can toss these nonallergenic, corn-plastic cups and straws into your compost pile. $9 for 50 cups, $6 for 400 straws; Eco-Products.

Recycled napkins and towels
You can keep clean by using these unbleached, 100 percent recycled napkins and paper towels. $6 for 500 napkins, $11 for six 120-sheet rolls; Treecycle.

Hand-cranked blender
Concoct party drinks with the human-powered Vortex blender. The 48 ounce pitcher sits atop a stable, stainless-steel base that stores neatly inside the pitcher. $88; Real Goods.

Solar LED table lights
Set these luminaries (shown by the blender) in the sun during the day, then enjoy hours of safe amber light at your picnic or campsite. $20; Real Goods.

Clean-burning charcoal starter fluid
Forget the smelly smoke of petroleum starter fluid. This odorless, ethanol-based fluid is 99 percent petroleum-free, and burns hotter than standard fluids. $7 for a 32 ounce bottle; Real Goods.

Gravity-feed water filter
Thirsty? Just fill and hang the Katadyn Base Camp filter, equipped with an EPA-approved filter that removes bacteria and parasites from 5 quarts of water in 10 minutes, without pumping or chemicals. $59; L.L.Bean.

Bamboo cutting board
Prepare food for the grill on a bamboo cutting board. Bamboo is harder than maple and lighter than oak, absorbs little moisture, and it’s grown in quickly replenishing groves. $8 and up; Totally Bamboo.

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