It just isn’t summer if you don’t host at least one big backyard cookout. Many of us have happy memories of barbecue parties with friends and family. Whether you had hotdogs or filet mignon, it was good as long as you had fun with the people you shared it with.
Today, we all want to keep the traditions going, but perhaps with a bit more respect for the environment. If you’re not mindful of it, barbecues can generate a lot of unnecessary waste and be harmful to the earth and atmosphere. If you want to host an eco-friendly barbecue, try following these simple tips.
REDUCE, REUSE, RECYCLE
The three ‘R’s are crucial when hosting a green backyard barbecue. During the planning stages you can look for ways to reduce waste from entering the landfill, such as:
• Use reusable cutlery, such as plastic or stainless steel – Either use your inside cutlery, or buy an inexpensive set for outdoor use
• Buy bio-degradable plates, cups, and cutlery
• Use cloth napkins – buy some inexpensive ones, or use cotton handkerchiefs. Simply wash and reuse at your next party
• Return and/or recycle all cans and bottles – Return beer, wine, and alcohol bottles, and/or recycle all glass, aluminum, and plastic according to your municipality’s guidelines
• Place a recycling bin and/or Green Bin next to the garbage to curb waste – if you’ve followed the above steps, there should hardly be anything in the actual garbage can
• Have your guests write their names on their cup so they don’t lose it and have to use another – put out permanent markers and ask guests to label their drink. For wine, you can use charms to mark each glass
• Instead of buying cans of pop and bottled water, have pitchers or drink dispensers of punch, lemonade, water, and ice tea – set up a drink bar and let guests serve themselves
HAVE A GREEN GRILL
We’ve covered all the things you need to have a party, now let’s get into the actually barbecuing aspect. Some of the most common grilling practices are actually bad for the environment, but with a few minor adjustments, you will be grilling green!
• Use a natural gas or propane fueled grill – charcoal grills release a lot more volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air
• If you would rather keep your charcoal grill, trade out those briquettes and lumps of charcoal for eco-friendly alternatives – try coconut shell briquettes instead
• Try to buy local, and/or sustainable meat and vegetables – the David Suzuki Foundation has several articles on how to look for this
• Don’t overbuy on food – ask your guests for an RSVP so you have an idea of how much to buy
• Save leftovers or give them away rather than throw out excess food – don’t throw away perfectly good food. Re-heat it for future meals, or turn them into something new
• Use natural methods to clean up after – clean your grill with a halved onion, face down, and wipe down tables and chairs with vinegar and a damp cloth
If you have any other tips or suggestions on how to be green when you grill, share them in the comment section!