So you’ve got your organic cotton apron and your bamboo utensils and you stopped buying plastic-bottled beverages a decade ago. You’re off to a stellar start! Here are a few more ways to turn your BBQ/cookout/tailgate/meet-and-eat into a sustainable Iron Chef spectacular.
Gas vs. Charcoal – We’ll stay out of the flavor debate, but we’ll pass on the facts about these fuel sources: Charcoal briquettes are typically made from a combination of lighter fluid, sawdust, and other chemical additives; when burned, charcoal briquettes can produce 105 times more carbon than propane and nasty little air pollutants called VOCs (Volatile Organic Compounds). Propane, on the other hand, does come from non-renewable fossil fuels but produces fewer and cleaner emissions. So propane is the way to go, BUT here’s the catch: if you can find true charcoal (generally called lump or chunk charcoal), this fuel is made from a non-additive hardwood material and burning it is carbon neutral.
Cookin’ With the Sun – If you’re in the market for a zero emissions option, go for a solar grill or oven. Solar grills are a renewable take on the traditional “electric” grill, while solar ovens magnify and maximize sunlight to do the actual cooking. Science is so cool.
FOOD & DRINK
Get Local – There are about a million and one reasons to buy local food. To name just a few, buying local: reduces your carbon footprint thanks to short-distance transportation, supports local farmers, stimulates biodiversity in your ecosystem, and generally sidesteps all that plastic packaging you find in chain grocery stores. Co-ops, farmer’s markets, farm carts, community gardens, local grocery stores… we’d bet there are tons of great options near you.
DIY Dips – Do you know how easy it is to make hummus? REALLY easy. Say buh-bye to single-use plastic tubs and hello to your new party trick. Google your favorite dip recipes (we like these for hummus, salsa, and green goddess dip) and put that food processor to work. Twice as much dip for half the cost and 0% the amount of plastic. Wins all around.
DIY Chips – Potato chips, pita chips, tortilla chips, bagel chips, kale chips…there is literally no end to what you can slice and bake. Pick your base, toss with olive oil and salt (or other spices if you’re feeling, well, spicy) and bake low n’ slow. (Addendum: If you’re like our copywriter, Daisy, and “just loooove Doritos,” just make sure to repurpose that empty Doritos bag and reuse it as a trash bag. But also, the internet even has a DIY Doritos recipe… so no excuses).
Chill Properly – This one is tricky, but we understand ice is useful (hello, margaritas). When buying ice, opt for one big bag instead of multiple smaller ones. Reuse the bag as a trash bag or dry out before recycling (BTW, here’s a quick rundown on what’s recyclable and what’s not). If you have a bucket or a cooler to keep cold, fill it with cold water and ice packs.
The Bottle and The Can – We know you know, but it’s a good reminder: Cans and bottles are the best materials to recycle, with clean plastic next, but avoid juice boxes or things that come in cartons – they’re coated with a thin film on the inside that renders them unrecyclable.
SUPPLIES & MATERIALS
Plate & Wipe Responsibly – Skip single use plastic or styrofoam and look for paper plates and napkins that are made from recycled materials. When you’re done, toss in the compost or the fire. Don’t have a compost? Make one.
Get Real (With Real Utensils) – We challenge you to avoid single-use materials (even if they’re compostable and made out of corn oil…). Use the utensils you’ve got and ask a friend to bring all their utensils, too. If you host often, hit up a local thrift store and get a bunch of cheap utensils as a backup BBQ set.
Bees Have Your Back – Ditch plastic wrap if you know what’s good for ya! We’re big fans of reusable beeswax wraps that come in all different sizes and keep your leftovers just as fresh. You can find them in lots of stores now (even in Trader Joe’s), or you can make them yourself – just be sure to the get beeswax beads from a local store, not delivered via the interwebs!
Raise a Cup to Mother Nature – Say it with us, “No more plastic cups!” Grab a 12-pack of mason jars (about $8 at the grocery store). Or just ask your friends to BYOC – tell them it’s just like camping.
Happy BBQ-ing – save us some leftovers!