10 Tips to R-R-R At Your Next B-B-Q
From the type of grill you use to your post-food-coma cleanup, there are tons of ways to reduce waste at your backyard barbecues (and maybe even reduce your carbon footprint while you’re at it). Here are 10 tips from Recyclebank to ensure the best and greenest barbecue season.
1. If you’re choosing charcoal: Charcoal is often thought of as the least green option for your grill, but it is still a popular choice since it’s known for making food taste much more delicious. One way to make this choice better is to make sure you use all wood lump charcoal, as opposed to synthetic briquettes that usually contain harmful chemicals. This way, if you do go the charcoal route, you can dispose of the ashes in your compost pile afterward (instead of trashing them).
2. If you’re grilling with gas: Gas is usually thought of as the greener alternative when compared to charcoal, since it releases much less CO2. However, it still has some drawbacks, since it still has to burn natural gas or propane in order to run. One obvious plus to this method is that no ashes are created like those from charcoal, and the gas tanks can usually be refilled (and if they can’t be refilled, they’re generally accepted at household hazardous waste events), so there’s virtually no landfill-bound waste! Plus, gas grills offer another opportunity for improvement: You can reduce the amount of gas you use overall by maintaining a constant temperature while cooking and shutting off the grill as soon as you’re done. These savings can’t be achieved with charcoal, as there’s much less control.
3. If your grill’s electric: Like gas grills, and unlike cooking with charcoal, electric grills eliminate ash waste. But unlike gas grills, they remove the hassle of refilling a gas tank or figuring out how to dispose of one properly. If you’re still looking for some way to make this option even better, you can make sure the electric that you’re using to power the grill comes from a sustainable source such as solar or wind power.
4. And if you’re looking to soak up the sun: Okay, so it's not really a grill and it might not be your first choice out of all these options, BUT, solar cooking is by far the clear winner when it comes to a grilling carbon footprint, and it creates absolutely no new waste each time it’s used. The general idea is that one of these ovens will simply use heat from the sun to cook all of your food. That’s it. And they’re not necessarily expensive: You could build your own at home rather than buying one.
Food And Drink
5. Cut down on food waste: There are simple ways to reduce food waste when you’re prepping, and it all has to do with what makes the cut, literally. Try to use up the whole vegetable, from the leaves to the good stuff (like carrots in pesto made from their own leaves!).
6. Make your own grocery staples: Baked beans and backyard BBQs go together like peanut butter and jelly. But instead of buying pre-made baked beans, you can make your own (it’s not that hard, we swear, and you might even save some money by doing so). Another great homemade staple? Salad dressing is usually just a matter of shaking up a few pantry staples you already have on hand. When you make homemade grocery staples, you’ll often create less packaging waste than you would have if you bought the individual items instead and all of your guests will be impressed that you made your own. They don’t need to know how easy it was!
7. Pack up the leftovers: As you make the BBQ menu, make yourself a leftovers plan too, so you can use the leftovers throughout the week ahead. Then, as plates are clearing, grab some reusable containers and fill them up. If it’s a party, you might even tell your friends beforehand to bring some containers, and share the wealth! If there are any leftovers that can’t be salvaged, be sure to compost them.
Here are some happy hosting tips that will make it easy for the guests to create less waste, and to recycle the waste they do create.
8. Switch to sustainable utensils and plates: Ditch disposable and show off some style with your reusable flatware. You can even take odds and ends from your indoor sets and mash them together for a fun mismatched look. If you must go the disposable route, at least choose ones like those made of tapioca, which can be composted or possibly even recycled afterward.
9. Choose cloth napkins and table cloths: Table cloths and napkins for outdoor parties tend to be cheap and disposable. Break the habit for both and use real cloth! It will give your backyard a more homey feel, and all you have to do is throw them all in the wash when you’re done and they’ll be ready to use again.
10. Make recycling easy for guests: Be sure to have some clearly labeled bins near your feast to make sure everything gets disposed of properly. You can even get super specific, and include images and names of what goes in each, since you’ll know everything that’s being served and used. This way, you can make sure everything makes its way to the right bin and it’ll be even easier for your friends to do it right!