Spring has (finally) sprung and we all know that means barbecue season is officially upon us. The unofficial summer pastime brings together families and friends as we head outdoors to fire up the grill and enjoy the warmer weather. It also provides the perfect opportunity to reduce our eco-footprint. Not sure where to start? No worries; we’ve got you covered. Whether you’re planning a huge event or just grilling for the family, here are five easy ways to green up your barbecue without killing your grilling fun!
1. BUY LOCAL
- This is an all-around win/win for you and the environment. Local, seasonal produce means fresher produce since it doesn’t have to travel as far or as long to arrive on your plate. Local produce tends to have fewer preservatives and growth chemicals. You’ll also help save the energy that’s typically needed to transport crops longer distances, thereby reducing the carbon footprint. You can visit your local farmer’s market, and many grocery stores are now stocked with “buy local” sections to make consuming local produce easy.
2. USE REUSABLE AND RECYCLABLE SILVERWARE
- While recyclable silverware is always a win, try trading in those paper plates and plastic cups for reusable silverware. That doesn’t mean you need to break out your fine china — instead, look for party-ware plates and cups that can be used throughout the season. You’ll be helping to reduce overall waste and you won’t have to worry about your food soaking through the plate. For everything else, try unbleached, 100 percent recycled and biodegradable options.
3. MAKE YOUR OWN DRINKS
- You might not be able to get everyone on board with no carbonated drinks, but you can minimize your overall imprint. Try replacing half of your normal soda can and bottle purchases with homemade drinks like your auntie’s favorite punch, Sangria, iced tea or even lemonade.
4. GREEN UP YOUR GRILL
- This is a major pain point for charcoal purists, but you can green up your grill by looking for electric, natural gas and propane options — they produce less waste and are much more efficient.
5. DITCH THE LIGHTER FLUID
- For those who are committed to that charcoal-grilled flavor, you can still reduce your grilling imprint by ditching lighter fluid. It is made with all sorts of harmful chemicals, including volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and carbon monoxide that are going into the environment and into your food. Instead, try an electric metal lighter, charcoal chimney or even go old school with twigs and matches. And, if you can, opt for lump charcoal. It is a bit pricier, but it is all natural, lights easily, and burns hotter.