Seven Tips for Greening Your Barbecue This Summer

grilled veggiesWith Memorial Day Weekend just around the corner, millions of people will be firing up their grills to celebrate an American past time. Here are some quick tips to keeping your barbecue safe, waste-free, and fun!

1. What’s the greenest grilling option? Electric and propane grills are definitely better than charcoal. If that’s your only option though, try using cleaner burning, natural charcoals. A great list can be found here at If you’ve got your heart set on the flavor that comes from grilling over wood, Woodflame grills were the most eco-friendly option I could find.

2. Skip the meat. As if you didn’t need another reason to lower your meat intake, I also recently came across this health-related article on the 5 Worst Foods to Barbecue. (Hint, none of them are tofu.) You can replace the burgers and hot dogs with some vegetarian knock-offs (respectively, I recommend Amy’s burgers which come in a variety of flavors, and Lightlife Tofu Pups.) Or you could even try making your own ahead of time. I have to admit, I’ve never tried grilling my black bean or white bean burgers, but it’s worth a shot!

3. Go even simpler, with locally grown veggies. Really, what doesn’t taste better in kabob form? Load up some skewers with mushrooms, cherry tomatoes, zucchini, pepper, red onion, eggplant… even fruit like pineapple works great. For something a little different, check out Jennie’s recipe for Grilled Baby Bok Choy.

4. What barbecue is complete without some cold ones? Get your drinking in now before the beer shortage hits! Seriously though, go for locally brewed beers, even organic if possible. Check out this guide to greening your beer selection.

5. I’m told that at some barbecues there are those who don’t drink beer. While I wrap my mind around that one, here are some nonalcoholic alternatives. Santa Cruz makes organic fruit juices and sodas and is a Green-E certified business. Blue Sky also makes natural sodas as well as energy drinks. Both are nationally distributed (you can likely find them at Whole Foods).

6. Ditch the disposables for plates and utensils that can be re-used. Bonus points if they’re made from recycled materials, like my favorite brand: Preserve Tableware. These come in fun, festive colors and are dishwasher safe. You can also read about a non-reusable, but definitely pretty option: leaf plates.

7. While keeping it local in your backyard is ideal, urban-dwellers like myself are left to seek out public parks. Scope out the area ahead of time to see if they offer recycling and composting options. If not, be sure to bring your own bags or containers for cleaning up waste. BioBags are 100% biodegradeable and compostable. Leave your green spaces as pristine as they were before you got there.

Most importantly, just get outside and enjoy yourself! The best thing about barbecuing is the chance to spend time outdoors with friends and family, celebrating this beautiful planet. I hope you all have a safe, and wonderful weekend!

And check out this Ecopreneurist post for more green barbecue and camping tips!

Image Credit: Velo Steve on Flickr under a Creative Commons License.

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