It's finally that time of year. Get ready to dust the cobwebs off the BBQ and get grilling!
We Brits love a summer barbecue. It's a great opportunity to get together with friends and family, relax and show off those grilling skills. But as BBQ season gets underway, have you considered the impact your BBQ has on the environment?
Researchers from the University of Manchester calculated that the average barbecue for four would release the equivalent of 800 balloons full of carbon dioxide. That's more carbon than a 90-mile car journey! Fear not though, if you don't want to cut out the cookouts this summer we've got 5 top tips to have an eco-friendly BBQ.
Get ready to make this BBQ your most eco-friendly yet!
1. Don't use single-use BBQs - consider buying or building your own
We've all seen and perhaps used a single-use barbecue in past. They're light, transportable and extremely cheap to purchase - usually only a few pounds each.
There are a number of downsides to using these cheap grills – not least of which is their throwaway nature, which (combined with their cheap price) means they perpetuate the harmful ‘single-use’ culture which threatens the environment.
Disposable barbecues also contain charcoal, which is normally unsustainably sourced, contributing to the desertification of forest. Disposable barbecues can’t be recycled or composted, meaning that for each one sold in the UK each year – estimated at over a million – new waste committed to landfill.
By building or buying a more permanent barbecue you're investing in something that will last and not contributing to the 'throwaway' culture.
2. Don't use plastic/disposable utensils and plates
Plastic cutlery is everywhere, and most of it can be used only once. Billions of forks, knives, and spoons are thrown away each year. But like other plastic items—such as bags and bottles—cutlery can take centuries to break down naturally, giving the plastic waste ample time to work its way into the environment. In fact, The Ocean Conservancy lists cutlery as among the items “most deadly” to sea turtles, birds, and mammals.
Make the switch to more sustainable options, like bamboo cutlery and utensils. Bamboo is a fast-growing, renewable and most-importantly, biodegradable material. By using bamboo BBQ tongs, cutlery and servings dishes you can eradicate the need for disposable plastic.
3. Make it vegan
As we mentioned at the start of this article, a typical British BBQ produces around 200 balloons-worth of carbon dioxide per person, and meat is a big contributing factor. In fact, a 100g beef burger would be responsible for the largest part of the greenhouse gas emissions – around 60 balloons, or six miles in a car - per single burger.
By switching to vegan BBQ products instead, the impact is reduced dramatically.
A vegan barbecue creates emissions to the equivalent of about 80 balloons of carbon dioxide per head for the meal. That corresponds to driving about eight miles per person – less than half of the typical barbecue emissions.
Food for thought indeed.
4. Meal plan to combat food waste or send guests home with doggy bags
We've all been there. The time of the gathering is getting ever nearer and the fear starts to creep in... "Have I bought enough food for everyone?". Eek. It seems like we're not alone. Each August, Britons typically throw away £4.28m of BBQ food waste.
Help to avoid this by planning ahead, and estimating how much each person can realistically eat. If you end up with a surplus of leftovers, use reusable food wraps to give to your guests to take home with them. After all, it's always better the next day!
5. Choose charcoal over gas
While gas barbecues look like a better option than carbon-producing charcoal ones, it's actually charcoal BBQs which are slightly better. Although charcoal releases more than 100x as much carbon monoxide than gas, charcoal is carbon neutral as it releases carbon tied up temporarily in the tree it was made from. The gas used to power barbecues (propane/butane) is a fossil fuel, and so is a net contributor to global carbon levels.