With summer fast approaching we are getting into one of my favorite times of year – barbecuing season. I love barbecuing – whether I’m grilling up some traditional pork ribs, grass-fed beef hot dogs, or grilling some eggplant, the grill is a staple in our backyard. However, grilling and barbecuing are not always the most environmentally-friendly activities.Here are a few tips to help make your barbecues a little greener.

Don’t Over-Buy

If you are having guests over for a good old fashion BBQ, plan ahead. Get a good count on the number of guests that will be in attendance and plan accordingly. Over-purchasing can lead to lots of unnecessary waste. If you have left over food do not be afraid to send home doggie bags with guests or donate leftovers to a local food pantry (if they can take it).

Ditch the Disposables

Barbecues are notorious for the paper plates, paper napkins, and plastic cups. Ditch these disposable items for nice reusable ones. Have guests bring items in reusable containers, use reusable bamboo utensils, buy some inexpensive and reusable plates, and glass cups. If you are completely opposed to reusable utensils and flatware opt for a more eco-friendly disposable option such as Bare by Solo.

Gas or Electric Grills

225,000 metric tons of CO2 are released into the environment from grilling each year. From a carbon standpoint, gas grills are the best because natural gas and propane burn cleaner and leave behind less waste than charcoal grills. A second best would be electric grills. If you run your home off of sustained green power, an electric grill would be the best option. Charcoal is the last pick. It does give burgers that good old “coal smoked taste,” but the particulate matter from burning the briquettes contains carbon monoxide and other VOCs that are released into the environment. In fact, a coal-burning grill releases about 11 pounds of CO2 per hour versus 6 pounds per hour in a propane grill. If you can’t give up the coal-burning grill, opt for a natural lump coal instead of the briquettes. Briquettes contain more additives and release more VOCs into the environment

Compost and Recycle

Clearly label your compost and recycling bins for your friends. Leftover food scrapes can go into the compost and recyclable items into recycling bins.

Organic Food and Produce

Choose locally produced or organic food when possible. This applies to beer as well. There are a lot of great varieties of locally produced and organic beers on the market.

Using these steps at your next barbecue will ensure you are doing your best to enjoy the joys of grilling while still keeping your environmental footprint in check. What are your tips for greening up your summer barbecues?