Six ways to green your BBQ

Since I’m on travel, it’s a Sunday in June, and I know how much the notion of individual action bugs Shellenberger and Nordhaus (see “The Audacity of Nope: George Will embraces the anti-environmentalism””and anti-environment””message of The Breakthrough Institute” ), here’s another “how to” piece from the Center for American progress.

It’s summer BBQ season again, and 60 million households are expected to fire up the grill over every holiday weekend this summer. Together, they’re expected to release about 225,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide. As large as this number is, it doesn’t take into account the fact that lots of us will be taking advantage of sunny weather throughout the summer and grilling on other occasions, too.

These six simple tips will help make your own cook out a little bit greener and healthier this summer. So invite your friends, fire up the grill, and enjoy some delicious food and beverages.

1. Use a propane, gas, or electric grill. These three grills burn more efficiently than charcoal or wood, which means cleaner air for you to breathe and fewer pollutants released into the atmosphere.

2. Use natural charcoal. If you do choose charcoal choose a natural lump brand””you can find a great list of brands over at Avoid briquettes, which can contain coal dust, sodium nitrate, sawdust, starch, or limestone. These can all release toxic byproduct. Briquettes soaked in lighter fluid are the worst offenders””they release volatile organic compounds, or VOCs that contribute to smog when burned.

3. Lay off the lighter fluid. Petroleum-based lighter fluid releases harmful VOCs, too. To get your grill going, use a chimney starter, electrical charcoal starter, or another do-it-yourself fire starter.

4. Buy only what you need. Count up your guests, and buy food only for that number to ensure that leftovers don’t go to waste.

5. Focus on the food. Your eco-minded guests will certainly appreciate grass-fed beef burgers, pesticide-free lettuce, and especially home-grown tomatoes. Organic beer or wine will also reduce the impact of your meal, and serving filtered water from a pitcher instead of bottled water will keep your guests hydrated while minimizing trash. Pick up some mushrooms from the farmer’s market or veggie burgers for a meat-free meal that will really reduce the impact of your food.

6. Ditch the disposables. Use reusable plates, cups, and silverware instead of paper or plastic disposable ones. If you’re using plastic utensils, consider collecting them at the end of the night and washing them for reuse. Or find some compostable utensils made of potato or cornstarch.

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8 Responses to Six ways to green your BBQ

  1. Leland Palmer says:

    Charcoal is mostly carbon neutral, discounting transportation energy cost. But transportation energy cost can be substantial.

    So, right now, barbecuing is just like many other activities in our society, it is hard to do it in a carbon neutral way.

    If we were to use locally grown wood to fuel the barbecue, especially from fallen trees, that would be carbon neutral.

    If we were to have a whole energy system set up, based on carbonizing and distributing wood or charcoal from fallen or insect killed trees, or from wood harvested and then replanted, that would be mostly carbon neutral.

    On the other hand, if we demand that our local coal fired power plants are transformed into carbon negative bioenergy power plants, that burn carbonized biomass and deep inject their CO2, the barbecue and most of the other activities that we do during the entire year can become carbon negative.

    Which is why I support combining biomass energy with carbon capture and sequestration.

  2. Michael says:

    If you’ve got a hot air hairdrier, you can also use it instead of an actual grill.

    It really does work and it also helps to ease any enviromental concerns.

  3. Ken says:

    7. And lighten up on the beef. Each pound is equivalent to driving your SUV about 30 miles. []

  4. Jill says:

    Hey, so can I republish this in our employee newsletter? Great list. :D

    [JR: Yes, you may — with credit back to CP!]

  5. Ubuntu says:

    How can you have any pudding if you don’t eat your meat?


  6. Peter Croft says:

    We have a brick-built BBQ and usually just use seasoned wood. It takes a bit longer to get it ready for cooking but the wood’s free and carbon neutral.

  7. paulm says:

    Sir Paul McCartney calls for meat-free Mondays to combat climate change

    Sir Paul McCartney and his family have launched a campaign urging people to reject meat and go vegetarian once a week to help combat climate change.

    “Many of us feel helpless in the face of environmental challenges, and it can be hard to know how to sort through the advice about what we can do to make a meaningful contribution to a cleaner, more sustainable, healthier world.

    “Having one designated meat-free day a week is a meaningful change that everyone can make, that goes to the heart of several important political, environmental and ethical issues all at once.”

    The songwriter compared the issue to that of recycling when it was unfashionable several years ago.

    “I think the time is right now for this idea,” he said.

  8. todd says:

    Methods to Green ones BBQ methods are always helping both the environment and people’s health. My client La Cense Beef continues to prove that Organic meat is much healthier than regular meat.