Grilling in green

For many, Labor Day weekend is one of the last opportunities to get outside and get grilling.

But, before you reluctantly send off summer, consider entertaining with sustainable practices in mind. The backyard grill session is the perfect place to implement some green techniques to share with the family, friends and community. It may be your last shot for this year, but “better late than never,” we like to say.

Here are our top tips to get all fired up!

Grill veggies

Keep it vegetarian! This is the most sustainable move you can make when it comes to grilling green. For meat-eaters, we encourage you to at least buy your products locally to reduce that carbon footprint. Most farmers markets are still open well into the fall, and that’s a great spot to get locally sourced meat, dairy and produce.

Use an electric grill

Gas is preferable to charcoal...but electric wins the eco-grill game! Charcoal emits VOCs that are harmful to the environment and to the guests breathing in all that smoke. It also releases ground-level ozone, which we know to be a major smog factor.

According to Oak Ridge National Laboratory, a gas burner emits about 5.6 pounds of carbon dioxide per hour, compared to 11 pounds per hour for cooking over the coals. Additionally, about 90 percent of propane makes it out of the production process as useable fuel, whereas only 20 to 35 percent of the source wood ends up as a charcoal briquette (the rest burns off into the air).

Electric is best, especially if you are already sourcing your energy from alternative sources such as wind or solar. For some, flavor profiles matter a great deal, and there is insistence that fire is necessary for the best taste. If so, give the pellet grill a try! Also, check out the Rainforest Alliance Smartwood program. They carry environmentally certified products that may suit your needs.

Put out reusable plates

Reusable over disposable: one of the most impactful ways to entertain sustainably is to use reusable cookware and utensils. If disposable is your only option, one of the best recommendations for maximum recycling potential is Leafware. It’s compostable, versatile and sturdier than many other plastic or paper products out there.

Keep it clean

Clean up! Naturally, even in your own backyard, you are a guest of the Earth you inhabit. Be sure to tidy up after your engagement, putting all materials in the appropriate receptacles. However, with these tips in mind, regular old trash should be hardly existent!

Find even more great tips on green grilling and suggested menus from some of our favorite earth-friendly sites.

Clean green with our DIY kitchen cleaner recipe