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Tips to make your cookout a little greener |

Tips to make your cookout a little greener

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Check out these grilling tips before your backyard barbecue.
USA TODAY

Summertime is prime for grilling, whether in the backyard, by the pool, or at a camp. Casual afternoons and evenings with gathered friends and family, with the smells from the grill filling the air… it’s one of my favorite parts of the season!

But, please, don’t create unnecessary waste in the name of a good barbecue or fish fry. Host gatherings with the spirit of being waste-free (or at least minimally wasteful), and leave a positive impact on the environment.

As you shop for food, look to your local grocery stores, produce markets and farmer’s markets for the best goods. You can find great quality meats and veggies and support local businesses at the same time.

Dinnerware and utensils are the most frequent items thrown away at gatherings, so that’s where you can start in reducing waste. Your best bet is to simply go for lightweight, reusable melamine plates, bowls and cups. While it is a form of plastic, melamine dinnerware is lightweight, unbreakable, easy to wash and inexpensive, so it’s a good item to have a lot of for use outdoors, and for children. I don’t recommend heating food directly on melamine dinnerware, though. Wash and reuse utensils even if they are plastic.

When you invest in a set of reusable plates and cups for gatherings, you can pick ones that mirror your home’s style and your personality, instead of having to buy a pack at the store for every event.

Having a small gathering with a few people? Just use your regular dinnerware and utensils (and make sure your dishwasher is empty beforehand!)

 

If you still prefer to go the disposable dinnerware route, choose disposable plates/silverware that are made with recycled content. Many grocery stores carry options with that contain a percentage of recycled material. You can also find plates or bowls made with plant-based materials, bagasse (a sugarcane by-product), or compostable materials. (However, these items may only be compostable in a commercial facility.)

Use cloth napkins instead of paper, and throw them in the wash when the party is over. Supply koozies for your guests so they don’t waste a ton of napkins to hold their drinks. You know you’ve got an overflowing supply of koozies somewhere in your kitchen.

Go for reusable plastic, acrylic, or regular glassware for drinks, instead of single-use Solo cups. This is where those Mardi Gras and Festival International souvenir cups come in handy.

Cans are recyclable, and glass bottles are not, so remember that when you’re shopping for beverages.

Provide a pitcher of water as an alternative to bottled water.

Provide your guests with easy access to a trash can and a recycling bin. Keep them next to each other and clearly mark what is accepted in the recycling bin. Don’t make them guess or work extra to recycle.

If you’ve got aluminum foil, save, rinse and reuse it. Skip plastic wrap and use a plate or cloth napkin to protect food.

Have leftovers? Use reusable containers to package everything up. If you’re a guest, bring your own container for leftovers.

Decorate your outdoor space with LED or solar-powered lighting to save on energy costs.

So, when you’re at home, or hosting a small gathering, don’t default to using disposables. Remember the impact all that waste has on our environment, and make the sustainable choice! Choose reusable.

Lafayette native Caitlin Sonnier Russo is the bike-riding, compulsive litter-collecting, yoga-obsessed green blogger behind EcoCajun.com.

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As it heats up outside, it is time to fire up that grill for some delicious summer cooking. Here are tips to make sure you do it safely. Paige Schwahn/USA Today Network

 

Category: Dinnerware  Tags: ,  Comments off
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