If there’s anything that screams summer, it’s a barbecue with family or friends. There’s just something about cooking in the great outdoors. But the traditional grill out can be more wasteful than it needs to be. Here are some tips for a successful barbecue that’s a little more earth-friendly.
- Eat local. Whenever possible, choose menu items from local sources, such as farm markets. Remember that pasture-raised, grass-fed meat is more eco-friendly than intensively farmed, mass produced meat.
- Avoid convenience foods. Purchasing food in larger packages instead of individually wrapped packages and doing the prep work yourself generates less waste. It usually makes for a better product too! For example, make your own dips in reusable containers instead of buying prepackaged dips.
- Embrace the reusable! Sure, providing disposable alternatives such as mason jars, bamboo utensils and reusable napkins makes for a bit of extra work, but isn’t it worth it? Be sure to choose options that don’t need to be hand washed to make it a bit easier.
- Choose recyclable over the alternative. If you must use disposable items, do your homework ahead of time to make sure they can be recycled with your recycling provider. For example, Granger curbside recycling accepts plastic cups, but not foam cups.
- Clean up! If you are choosing to recycle items you’ve used to eat and serve food, be sure they are thoroughly cleaned before putting them in the recycling collection.
- Make recycling easy for guests. Be sure trash and recycling containers are clearly labeled and easily accessible to avoid contaminating the recycling stream.
- Minimize food waste. Sometimes it’s difficult to gauge how much food you will need. Do your best to control the waste by getting a good count on the number of people coming and not overestimating how much they will eat. Serve items that will keep well and suggest that guests bring their own reusable containers to take home leftovers.
- Grill responsibly. Some would argue that charcoal grills are the way to go, but they are the most harmful to the environment, especially when they’re the disposable variety. Electric grills are the most sustainable option, with gas grills coming second. If you really want to use charcoal, look for eco-friendly varieties. When cooking, keep the grill closed as much as possible to reduce cooking time and the amount of smoke and chemicals released into the atmosphere.