Grilling is one of those awesome outdoor cooking activities commonly done when one wants to wind down or just enjoy some fun time with friends and family. Despite it being an activity that makes get-togethers, fun days, holidays, family days, or just a casual leisure afternoon perfect, it may also have some considerable impact on the environment. Nonetheless, in order to protect the environment while at the same time enjoy a delicious afternoon barbecue, green grilling qualifies as a very impressive option.
The majority of people, however, will think that when barbecuing is mixed with environmental concerns, it may ruin the event of having some cool time with friends and family. But what we need to understand is that the switch to green grilling is very easy as it simply entails making a few changes to the kind of products you buy and the way grilling is done. In other words, it is all about enjoying outdoor cooking in an environmentally friendly way to reduce air pollution and overall carbon footprint. Here are suggestions that can make your grilling more eco-friendly.
Various Eco-friendly Ways to Reduce Carbon Impact With Green Grilling
1. Invest in green grills and green grilling habits
Green grills simply mean grilling equipment that is fuel efficient and durable and those that can use renewable energy such as solar power. You may also consider efficient and durable gas or electric grills.
Also, ensure you buy quality and durable grills designed to last for many years. This reduces the need to replace or dispose of a grill every now and then as disposing of appliances such as grills have a negative carbon impact on the environment. And when you buy a grill, make sure you take good care of it, repair as needed, and do not replace unless necessary.
2. Use Natural Lighters
Use chimney charcoal starters or ‘do it yourself’ fire starters that are petroleum free. This is the best way to start up a fire in preparation for grilling as self-staring charcoal and petroleum lighter fluids contain volatile organic compounds, which release petrochemicals into the atmosphere causing air pollution. Some of the natural lighters you can opt for include electric charcoal starter and natural lighter fluids.
3. Use superior charcoal
This involves the use of natural charcoal from waste woods (bamboo or wood from sustainably managed forests). Natural charcoals are free from additives and binders thus helping to reduce air pollution by producing a cleaner fire. Additionally, this alternative produces the best results for your grills by reducing airborne toxins.
4. Light your charcoal the right way
Burning charcoal with lighter fluids emits huge amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), particulate matter, and carbon particles into the atmosphere, which is responsible for Ground-level ozone formation. The use of fluid lighters to get the charcoal burning is thus not a good way of grilling if you are to make it eco-friendly.
Instead, you should consider putting down the lighter fluid and switching to an electric charcoal starter, charcoal chimneys, or a natural combustion agent such as fatwood. By lighting your charcoal the right way, you will also be protecting yourself from a potential barbecue-related injury.
5. Use natural gas
When buying grills, go for natural gas or renewable fuels. This is the cleanest fossil fuel and it burns much cleaner compared to propane gases and charcoal grills. Besides, natural gas emits much fewer pollutants and significantly improves the grilling experience.
Gas grills emit only about 5.6 pounds of CO2 per hour compared to 15 pounds for electric, and 11 pounds for a charcoal grill. The best option and the most eco-friendly way to grill are to use solar cookers as they burn zero fuel. Also, solar cookers, unlike gas and charcoal cookers, do not require any renewable resources to power up.
6. Plan your cooking time
This involves reducing preheat periods of your grills. Make sure to start cooking 5 to 10 minutes after starting your grills, especially for gas grills as it will considerably reduce cumulative gas wastage over an extended period, like let’s say one year.
It can save your gas bills by 30% annually if you regularly grill as you will not be leaving your grill burning any longer than needed. For charcoal grills, give it 15 to 20 minutes to be ready for cooking. This helps to reduce coal smoke that emits carbon into the atmosphere.
7. Consider dousing your flames
After finishing your cookout, consider dousing your charcoal flames to stop the coal from burning and emitting more carbon. Do not discard reusable charcoal, instead close your grill and the shutter as soon as you are done. This ensures you have leftover coal for the next grill and significantly reduces energy wastage and the need to buy fresh charcoal.
8. Compost your leftovers
Every cookout is bound to have leftovers. Since most of the food is biodegradable, organic, and compostable, the best way to dispose of such grilled leftover is to add them to the compost pile that you can later use to give your garden soil more vitality. This is far much better than dumping them as garbage as food waste releases methane emissions causing air pollution. Furthermore, you can avoid wasteful plastic by opting for compostable dinnerware.
9. Clean your grills
Make sure to clean up your grills immediately after a cookout while it is still hot. Leaving it for later leads to build up of grease and food stain particulars which produce sooty smoke during your next cookout. It also makes you heat up the grill longer to burn off the dried bits the next time you have a cookout, leading to energy wastage.
10. Disposable utensils
Disposable plates, especially plastics cutlery, paper plates, and paper serviettes should be avoided at all cost. This is to avoid plastic pollution and filling up landfills with unnecessary material waste. There are even compostable dinnerware options that can be used. It is, therefore, far much better to use reusable utensils and cloth napkins then wash them later after a cookout.
11. Trimming excess fats from meat
Not only does trimming your meat make it healthier for consumption but it also reduces the release of harmful chemicals into the environment causing pollution. Colleen Doyle, a registered dietician who is also a member of the American Cancer Society, advises: “there is evidence that when fat drips on coals, the smoke that is formed contains PAHs, which may get deposited back on meats as the smoke surrounds the meat.”
12. Be cautious about excessive meat consumption and cook it at reasonable temperatures
To minimize health risks associated with barbecued food, mind the meat. Reports indicate that the risks of some types of cancers are associated with meat cooked at high temperatures because such temperatures lead to the formation of chemicals known as polycyclic aromatic hydrocarbons (PAHs) and heterocyclic amines (HCAs).
13. Go organic and buy local
Consider buying local and organic produce at farmers markets. Produce grown on farms are much healthier and reduce the emission of carbon laden chemicals into the atmosphere causing pollution. Also, consider fruits and vegetables as they have lower carbon than meat. Livestock meat has been proved to account for almost 20% of the total greenhouse gases. If beef is a must, try organic and locally sourced beef, chicken, or fish as they have a smaller percentage of carbon impact owing to minimized shipping.
14. Plan your next grill
Many grills, particularly gas grills, are not manufactured to last. Planning your next grill simply means buying quality grills that save you money and equally reduces the number of carbon emissions from the manufacturing of the grills, shipping, packaging, and recycling.