It’s Memorial Day Weekend again, which means just about everyone is going to join in the fun of at least one barbecue over the next few days. While having a fun outdoor party certainly is not the worst environmental sin, it’s important to do your best to keep your party as green as you can.
Here are some tips:
Skip disposable and think twice about “reusable” disposable
Obviously, green barbecue hosts are not about to serve their guests on plain old disposable plates and with plastic utensils that go straight to the landfill after one use. Now there are a whole herd of new products available that resemble their disposable relatives but are meant to be reused.
The trouble is, after a long party that followed hours of prep time, it can be easy to let the soiled reusables slide quietly into the trash never to be seen again. If that sounds familiar, you might consider one option that is made of bamboo and designed to be used just once and then tossed. According to the manufacturer, these plates biodegrade in 4-6 months. In my experience, these are sturdy plates and utensils and there is really no reason to toss them after one use. However, if you know you’ll toss, you might as well use something that will biodegrade. Even better, put it in your composter.
We have a set of plates and utensils from Preserve that are made with recycled material and that we continually reuse. However, every party I have to make a point (or even a trash-can dig) to save these from being treated as disposables. These are great because they aren’t breakable and can be run through the dishwasher, but for smaller parties with fewer kids, I find that using regular old plates and metal utensils work just fine.
Say “No” to lighter fluid
If you’re a charcoal loyalist, stay true to the environment by replacing toxic lighter fluid with a chimney starter. It’s also a good idea to look for greener charcoal since conventional charcoal often contains toxic additives.
Well-maintained grills are greener grills
As with anything, the length of a grill’s life span depends on how well it is treated. It’s important to do what you can to keep these out of the landfill for as long as possible. To do that, follow a regular cleaning schedule during grilling season.
You can also take proactive steps that keep your grill clean longer and keeps you from having to use harsh chemicals to clean it. Spray clean grates on an unlit grill with olive oil before cooking. This will keep your food from sticking to it. After you’ve finished but while the grill is still hot, use your grill brush to get rid of any residue from your meal.
Lastly cover your grill when you’re not using it to protect it from the elements. It will look nicer for longer and you’ll be less tempted to ditch it for a new prettier model any time soon.
So have a great, green Memorial Day barbecue and don’t forget to buy local and organic!
Kimberly Delaney is the author of Clean Home, Green Home: The Complete Illustrated Guide to Eco-Friendly Homekeeping, published by the Knack imprint of Globe Pequot Press.