Sunny afternoons and balmy evenings of summer call for lunches on the beach or dinners on the grill. While a beloved pastime, eating “al fresco” can be harmful to the environment, what with disposable dinnerware, fuel sources used for barbecues and other factors. Fortunately, there are some green cookout tips and picnic ideas that can help you have a fun and environmentally friendly meal.
One of the key green cookout tips and picnic ideas is to shop for green food. Some food is greener than others are, and that does not just mean veggies. Buy as much local and organic food as you can. Local, organic food helps the environment in a few different ways. It does not need to be shipped hundreds or even thousands of miles, cutting down on emissions and fuel usage. Food grown organically excludes chemicals such as pesticides and herbicides that could impair the soil. Local, organic foods are also good for your local economy as well as your health.
Another important inclusion for green cookout tips and picnic ideas is to choose the greenest cooking method you can. If you really want to go green and have some time on your hands, you could build a solar oven and prepare your meal harnessing the power of the sun.
If that seems a bit drastic for you, no problem. You can stick with a charcoal or gas grill and still have a greener barbecue. Start by using a grill that is just the size you need. By using an oversized barbecue grill, you will be essentially wasting fuel and releasing unwarranted emissions into the air. Propane grills burn cleaner and leaves less waste than charcoal. If you do use a charcoal grill, though, try all-natural lump charcoal and light it with a chimney starter, which utilizes newspaper instead of lighter fluid to get the coals burning. Another option is an electric grill, which emit 99% less carbon monoxide than a charcoal grill does.
These green cookout tips and picnic ideas don’t stop at the food and preparation. Store, carry and serve food in reusable containers rather than baggies or Styrofoam trays. Use reusable plastic plates, cups and utensils instead of the disposable paper and plastic variety. Cloth napkins and tablecloths will not only lend an air of elegance to your cookout or picnic, but each one will also be one less piece of paper in a landfill.
When your meal is finished and it is time to clean up, there are a few more green cookout tips and picnic ideas you can use. Clean your grill, table and other items with green cleaning products such as equal parts vinegar and water. Finally, wrap up and refrigerate leftovers as quickly as possible; wasting perfectly good food is the antithesis of green!