Memorial Day, the Fourth of July, the summer solstice… let’s face it, you don’t even need a specific holiday to make an excuse to grill during the summer months. The warm weather and festive atmosphere of vacation season is reason enough to gather your family, friends, and neighbors together for a cookout.
If you, like millions of other Americans, are planning to host a barbecue this summer, challenge yourself to make it as environmentally-friendly as possible. Going green at your barbecue isn’t as challenging as you might think—try these 6 easy ways to make your next cookout easier on the environment.
Ask guests to RSVP. Send out e-vites (or create a Facebook event) and ask guests to RSVP (and say if they’re bringing anyone) so that you can get a rough estimate of how many people will be attending your barbecue. That way, you’ll better be able to plan your food and drinks so that you don’t end up with a lot of leftovers.
Choose biodegradable plates and utensils. If you have 50 people coming to your barbecue, you may not be able to offer everyone reusable plates from your kitchen, but you can buy biodegradable plates and utensils. Clearly label a bin for your guests to leave their plates and utensils in when they’re done, and after the party is over, clean your biodegradable dishware with all-natural dish soap so that you can throw everything in your compost pile.
Set recycling bins in a prominent place. It’s no secret—the easier it is for people to recycle, the more likely they are to actually do it. By putting a recycling bin somewhere that your guests can easily see it, you’ll encourage people to recycle their bottles and cans rather than just throwing them in the trash. And don’t forget to set a good example yourself by recycling everything that you can.
Use a more eco-friendly grill. Bad news if you have a charcoal grill… this type of grill is the least environmentally-friendly option because it releases the most carbon monoxide and ground-level ozone. If you’re renting or buying a new grill, opt for gas, propane, electric—or, if you’re really ambitious—a solar-powered grill. If you have to use a charcoal grill, at least opt for organic charcoal instead of briquettes.
Buy local food. If it’s within your budget, reduce your carbon footprint and buy organic, locally-raised meat. Also look for locally grown veggies, like asparagus, that will go great on the grill. If you or one of your friends has your own garden, now is the perfect time to use some of that fresh summer produce.
Encourage eco-friendly transportation. If your house is easy to get to, encourage your guests to walk or ride their bikes. However, if you’re a little more out of the way, encourage guests to carpool. If you’ve created a Facebook event, ask guests to comment and sign up to either be a driver or join a carpool with a guest who lives nearby.
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