Now that the warm weather is upon us, I thought I would share a few eco friendly grilling tips with you. My husband and I are avid grillers and no matter what the season, you will often find our grill sizzling with an assortment of tasty foods. The great thing about the grill is it falls to the husband to do the actual cooking. I know, I should be some liberal and self-sufficient woman and tend the fire myself but why should I when the hubby enjoys it so much?? So, I prepare the food and he cooks it on our very awesome ceramic Green Egg grill. If you have one of these grills, welcome to the cult (I mean club!). We Green Eggers are a passionate bunch of people! If you have never tried one of these, check it out…you will never grill on anything else ever again! Is it the most environmentally friendly grill out there? Sadly, no, it isn’t but there are a lot of factors to consider when looking at the environmental impact of your grill. Charcoal fumes or supporting the gas industry? Not sure one is really better than the other but besides the grill itself, there are a lot of eco friendly grilling tips to keep in mind to reduce your carbon footprint. I am including a few Amazon affiliate links for useful products if you choose to do some shopping.
Eco Friendly Grilling Tips
1. Take a look at your grill: There are a lot of different types of eco-friendly grills on the market today. You can get grills that run on solar power, hydrogen, or even dried corn kernels! There are even kits that will allow you to convert your existing grill to an ethanol burning BBQ! Whether you choose electric, gas, charcoal or something even more exotic, a grill should be an investment for long term use. The benefit of the Green Egg is that the ceramic exterior does not rust so this grill will last a LOOOONG time! Keep your grill out of the rain and direct sun whenever possible and use a cover to protect it from environmental damage. Throwing your grill in the trash heap is not good for the environment, whether it runs on dried corn or charcoal.
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2. Think about the food you are serving: Most of the time when people think of grilling they automatically assume that you must include large quantities of meat. There are a lot of vegetarian dishes that work really well on the grill. You can include bamboo skewers of assorted vegetables or try grilling portobello mushrooms instead of hamburgers. Eating less meat is good for your health AND the environment. If you do choose to grill up some steaks or use chicken breasts in silver turtles, buy organic and/or grass-fed or find a local farmer to support. One of the best eco friendly grilling tips I can give you is to be conscious of the food you are putting on to cook.
3. What are you drinking? Instead of juice boxes for the kids, choose a glass pitcher of homemade lemonade and reusable cups. You can make your own sun tea for the grown-ups or choose an organic and/or local micro-brewed beer. Choosing green beer and reducing disposable waste are both relatively easy changes you can make to your menu!
4. Don’t be afraid to wash a few dishes. If you are looking for eco friendly grilling tips with a huge environmental impact, take this one to heart. Think about This: Americans throw away enough disposable plates and cups to give the world a picnic 6 times a year. That is a lot of trash! The environmental effect of paper plates is rather staggering!
If you are only having a few friends over, serve them their dinner on regular plates. If you must use something disposable, consider buying a sustainable product like bamboo plates or a plate made from recycled paper products.
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5. Go potluck: Ask friends and neighbors to bring a dish to share. Then, when the feast is over, you can send everyone home with a few leftovers in the dishes they originally brought. That way, you aren’t left with a ton of food you can’t possibly eat. Reducing food waste is a great way to lessen your impact on the planet.
6. Make homemade condiments: Store-bought condiments often have questionable ingredients and come in nonreusable plastic containers. Try making homemade sauces, marinades or dips that you think your guests will enjoy. Whipping up your own will reduce the numbers of non-reusable bottles and containers or the need for individual condiment packets. Put your homemade condiments in reusable condiment bottles for ease of use.
7. Skip the chemicals: Of course, you don’t want your meal to stick to the grill but spraying it with chemicals isn’t a great answer either. Instead, brush the grill surface with a small amount of olive oil. When your party is over and you need to clean the grill, go with natural grill cleaners whenever possible. Vinegar works well to remove stuck on food left behind on your grill. While the grill is warm (not hot!) mix a spray bottle with vinegar and water and spray the grill rack. Let it sit for 30 minutes to an hour and use a wire grill brush to wipe the rack clean.
Diane has a Bachelor’s degree in Microbiology with a Minor in Health Management and Policy. She spent many years working in cancer research, academics, and biotechnology. Concern over the growing incidence of human disease and the birth of her children led her to begin living a more natural life. She quickly realized that the information she was learning along the way could be beneficial to many others and started blogging as a way to share this knowledge with others. While passionate about health and the environment she can’t quite give up her favorite Cheetos and Diet Coke! Learn more about her HERE.