By Hayden Seder
Now that we’re in the midst of summer, some of you are bound to be hosting one of summer’s best excuses to get your drink on and hang with your friends: barbecues! But while BBQs are fun, they can be extremely costly to the environment. Think of the paper plates, plastic forks, and paper napkins you throw out after a big ol’ BBQ bash. Even the BBQ and charcoal used to cook your soy dogs is polluting the environment in ways that could be avoided. Take a look at some of the ways you can “green” your next BBQ and celebrate guilt-free!
Paper and plastic waste
All of those paper plates, paper napkins, red drinking cups for your games of beer pong, and plastic utensils add up to a lot of waste in the landfill. One of the more obvious ways to eliminate this waste is to use real plates and utensils for your bash. But who wants to do all those dishes? Certainly not someone whose already had a few Long Islands. So see if a grocery store near you carries biodegradable utensils and look for recycled plates and napkins.
Your BBQ grill serves as a major source of environmental degradation both for the grill itself as well as its fuel. Charcoal briquettes give off large doses of carbon monoxide (hello, ozone layer?). Instead you could use lump coal (which is slightly better) or try buying a new grill that burns propane or is electric. If you really want to go the extra mile you could invest in a solar-powered BBQ (hey, you’ll be outside anyway right?) and eliminate the need for fuels altogether. But assuming that most people don’t want to cough up the money for a solar-grill, going with a gas grill is a much better option than cooking with charcoal.
BBQs are great and easy parties because the majority of the time people will potluck and save you all the effort of cooking every single thing for the party. But if people decide to bring bags of potato chips, store-bought fruit salad, bags of buns, etc. all of that packaging starts to add up to a lot of waste. Instead, try designating what kinds of things people should bring and emphasize that they should try avoiding packaging altogether. Instead of buying that fruit salad, why not make your own and bring it in a pretty serving bowl? Or instead of buying bag upon bag of hot dog buns at the store maybe one could buy a large loaf of bread and use it for buns or, better yet, make your own buns! (I know, that’s asking a lot…) The options here are endless as to how you can avoid packaging while also improving your BBQ. Homemade buns taste better, right?
No BBQ would be complete without booze. More specifically, beer. Without coordination between attendees though, your guests will all most likely purchase their own cases of beer which leaves you cleaning up tens (or hundreds?) of beer cans in the morning. In anticipation of this, a good host could opt to rent a keg for the night thus saving everyone the trouble and also saving the environment from wasting can upon can.
The food choices you make for your BBQ can also have a negative effect on your BBQ. Are you buying food that’s been shipped across the country, maybe even from a different country? Are you serving organic food? Meat? (Probably not if you’re reading iEatGrass!) Whatever food you do decide to serve, there are ways to make its ecological footprint less by buying locally as well as seasonally.
For whatever veggies you need, try visiting your local farmers market, which will not only ensure that you are buying locally but also that you are buying in-season and supporting your local community. For your bread, try going to a local baker and try making your own veggie burgers and dogs (it’s actually pretty easy, I promise) rather than buying packaged soy dogs and patties from the store.
There you have it folks, just a few simple ways to avoid the waste that a BBQ (or any party really) can create. Take as much advice from this article as you see fit and have fun!