Summer is well on its way and the smoky scent of barbecues is in the air, but did you know that grilling is not so great for the environment? Eco-friendly living isn’t really synonymous with the traditional American barbecue, but you can go green and still enjoy this summer mainstay.
Dome or Ceramic Grills
Grills like the Big Green Egg may cost you a pretty penny, but these specially designed cookers are great for eco-friendly living. Dome grills are a green alternative to charcoal because they keep the heat in while the hood is down much more efficiently. Plus, you can cook just about anything on these bad boys. From burgers and pork to pizza and cake–yes, cake–you might as well just get rid of your stove and cook everything in the great outdoors with a dome grill.
When you’re living in an apartment, chances are you don’t have hundreds of dollars to shell out for a fancy grill, so you can keep your Weber and switch up the charcoal you use. Bamboo charcoal is a great alternative with high mineral contents that do little damage to the environment. In addition, bamboo has a fast growing rate, which means we won’t be using up all our resources to cook a few burgers. Green lump coal is another great option because it doesn’t give off soot and carbon monoxide like the typical briquettes that produce that scrumptious barbecue taste. This charcoal is virtually the same, but it has no additives or harmful chemicals. Be sure to pick up a bag that is certified organic. Coconut shell briquette coal is another eco-friendly option, but you will likely have to purchase a bag online.
The grill accessories you use can also impact the amount of toxins that are released into the air while you cook up food. Make sure you are using cast iron or stainless steel grates, which are much less harmful.
Just as you should purchase high-quality coals for your grill, you shouldn’t forget about the food you’re tossing on the grate! Always opt for grass-fed, local meat when planning a barbecue because there are fewer toxins and chemicals and the meat isn’t shipped as far, thus reducing its carbon footprint. Similarly, choose organic and local produce to cook or just serve to guests as a fresh side, and if you have a compost, make sure to discard any leftovers properly. At barbecues, too much food is often made for the amount of people who attend. Make sure to send your guests home with extras so you don’t end up tossing them in the trash later.
There’s no better way to wash down grilled food than with a frosty brew, but cans and bottles can quickly pile up in the trash. Dedicate a trash bin for all the empties so you can recycle everything after the party. Don’t forget to include plastic silverware in the recycling bin!