Green Tips: Sustainable Summer BBQ

| July 21, 2022

Barbecues are the perfect way to get outside and enjoy the warm summer weather. They are a great way to catch up with friends and family, but the downside is they can create a lot of waste, thus contributing to  carbon emissions. If you want to find ways to  hold an environmentally friendly barbecue, we have some tips on how you can make this fun, summer tradition more sustainable!

  1. Use reusable eating utensils: Because barbecues happen outdoors, they often rely on disposable plates and utensils to make clean-up easier. While this can be very convenient, it also generates a lot of waste. For barbecues in public areas, there are often limited options for recycling or composting bins, meaning that everything goes in the trash. To combat this issue, challenge yourself to use reusable dishes and utensils at your next barbecue! Using reusable dishes will be easy for a backyard event, because they can be brought straight from the backyard to the kitchen after they have been used. It is more difficult to use reusable plates for a larger event, like a community picnic, but a good way to go about this is to designate the job to some of the organizers. A few people can bring supplies from home, and others can be in charge of collecting used plates at the event and putting them in bins.
  2. Add more vegetarian options: Another great way to make barbecues more sustainable is to include some vegetarian options! While a traditional barbecue is associated with brisket and ribs, you can make yours more environmentally friendly by including some easy vegetarian options, like impossible burgers. Another great way to go about this is by making meat only one part of the barbecue, and not the entire meal. By including lots of vegetarian sides, like mac and cheese, coleslaw, french fries and summer fruits like peaches or watermelon, the meal will be more balanced, and more sustainable.
  3. Carpool: Another way to cut down on emissions at your barbecue is to carpool on your way over. This option is especially helpful for larger community barbecues, where lots of families are heading to the same place. Carpooling is an easy and cost-effective way to reduce carbon emissions, and it can also help you get to know some of your neighbors better.
  4. Clean up: To reduce harm to your immediate environment, make sure that you clean up thoroughly after outdoor events. Any food that gets left behind can be harmful to animals or could attract pests. If you are using plastic or styrofoam plates and utensils, they will pollute the environment where you left them, because they cannot biodegrade. By removing all your waste at the end of the barbecue, you will keep the area clean for the future. You can even make a competition for kids over who can find the most trash!
  5. Rethink your grill: Finally, if you find yourself barbecuing a lot, you might want to think about investing in an electric grill. Electric grills release fewer carbon emissions than traditional gas grills, and there are many cost-effective options on websites like Lowes and Amazon. You will also save money on gas in the long run. On the flip-side, if you have a big grill that you do not use often, it may be a good idea to sell it and buy a smaller one. Cooking on a smaller grill will take less gas, and cut back on carbon emissions.


Barbecues are a quintessential American way to get together and build community. By challenging yourself to run a sustainable barbecue, you can help energize your community around sustainability, and set an example for others on how to reduce their environmental footprint. Hopefully these tips will give you an idea of where you can get started in planning your very own sustainable barbecue. Have fun, and happy grilling!

By Julia Krushelnycky

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