It’s summer BBQ season again, and 60 million households are expected to fire up the grill over every holiday weekend this summer. Together, they’re expected to release about 225,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide. As large as this number is, it doesn’t take into account the fact that lots of us will be taking advantage of sunny weather throughout the summer and grilling on other occasions, too.
These six simple tips will help make your own cook out a little bit greener and healthier this summer. So invite your friends, fire up the grill, and enjoy some delicious food and beverages.
1. Use a propane, gas, or electric grill. These three grills burn more efficiently than charcoal or wood, which means cleaner air for you to breathe and fewer pollutants released into the atmosphere.
2. Use natural charcoal. If you do choose charcoal choose a natural lump brand—you can find a great list of brands over at greenyour.com. Avoid briquettes, which can contain coal dust, sodium nitrate, sawdust, starch, or limestone. These can all release toxic byproduct. Briquettes soaked in lighter fluid are the worst offenders—they release volatile organic compounds, or VOCs that contribute to smog when burned.
3. Lay off the lighter fluid. Petroleum-based lighter fluid releases harmful VOCs, too. To get your grill going, use a chimney starter, electrical charcoal starter, or another do-it-yourself fire starter.
4. Buy only what you need. Count up your guests, and buy food only for that number to ensure that leftovers don’t go to waste.
5. Focus on the food. Your eco-minded guests will certainly appreciate grass-fed beef burgers, pesticide-free lettuce, and especially home-grown tomatoes. Organic beer or wine will also reduce the impact of your meal, and serving filtered water from a pitcher instead of bottled water will keep your guests hydrated while minimizing trash. Pick up some mushrooms from the farmer’s market or veggie burgers for a meat-free meal that will really reduce the impact of your food.
6. Ditch the disposables. Use reusable plates, cups, and silverware instead of paper or plastic disposable ones. If you’re using plastic utensils, consider collecting them at the end of the night and washing them for reuse. Or find some compostable utensils made of potato or cornstarch.