Tips for Eco-Friendly Grilling This Summer
For many people, enjoying grilled burgers and steaks is an essential part of summer. Hosting a barbeque is a great way to feed your friends and family, but is not always eco-friendly. Fortunately, there are steps we can take to reduce the environmental impact of grilling. Sustainably harvested wood chips and the use of alternative fuel can cut down on the air pollution caused by charcoal grills, and minimize the effects of using non-renewable fossil fuels for gas grills.
The Huffington Post shared some green grilling tips from University of Michigan professor Steve Skerlos, which include using a chimney starter for charcoal grills (rather than lighter fluid) and putting as much food on the grill as possible to increase efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions. Cutting back on red meat and focusing on chicken, fish, and vegetables will help reduce the carbon footprint of your meals by up to 50%.
Charcoal enthusiasts should consider buying briquettes rather than lump charcoal, since briquettes contain sawdust (a good use of waste wood). You can buy additive-free briquettes like the ones from Wicked Good Charcoal, which are certified by the Forest Stewardship Council and come from sustainable timber operations. These are a great alternative to popular brands which tend to use additives such as coal dust, starch, sodium nitrate, limestone, and borax. You may also consider saving the charcoal grilling for steaks and chops, where you’ll really taste the difference. You can cook your burgers, vegetables, and fish on your gas grill without much of a difference in taste.
For those cooking on gas grills, you can switch to natural gas, which burns much cleaner than propane. You can also clean your grill after you’ve eaten and while it’s still hot, rather than heating it up early next time and burning more fuel. To further reduce the environmental impact of your meal, grill food that will be used for more than one meal, such as extra chicken for sandwiches or grilled vegetables for salads. The Brooklyn Botanic Garden offers a guide to urban composting, so you can avoid wasting food scraps. You’ll also want to minimize the use of disposable plates, napkins, and cups, opting for washable and reusable supplies instead.
If you don’t have a grill or are looking to replace yours with a more eco-friendly model, there are plenty of options available. Woodflame grills burn only wood and have the added benefit of being portable, which can come in handy if you don’t have an outdoor space of your own. EcoQue offers portable options as well, and their larger grills are equipped with windows so you can see how your food is cooking without lifting the lid (and letting out heat). Grill Dome uses ceramics to maintain high temperatures, and their charcoal grills allow you to reuse charcoal and conserve fuel. Solaire Infrared grills preheat in just 3 minutes and cook food in half the time of traditional propane grills.
Even if you’re not in the market for a new grill, taking simple steps like switching up your fuel source can make your meals more eco-friendly. “Green” grilling will allow you to kick back and enjoy summer with a cleaner conscience – and a cleaner earth.