While the environmental impact of grilling is negligible compared with most of the other things we do in our day it is important that we take every aspect of our lives into consideration when it comes to combating air pollution and our carbon footprint. By making a few changes to the way we grill and the kinds of products we buy we can make grilling green. Try out these suggestions to make your outdoor cooking more environmentally friendly.
Avoid petroleum based lighter fluids and self-lighting charcoal. These release petrochemicals into the atmosphere. Instead use a charcoal chimney, an electric charcoal starter, or natural lighter fluids to get your fire going (see Charcoal Starters).
Choose a superior charcoal. Natural charcoals and lump charcoal made from furniture scraps and waste wood without additives and binders make a cleaner fire that not only reduces your pollution output but improve your grilling experience.
Switch to gas. Gas grills are much more energy efficient than charcoal grills and produce far less pollutants.
Switch to Natural Gas. Many grills have a natural gas option. Natural gas is the cleanest fossil fuel and burns much cleaner than propane grills.
Reduce preheat times. Most gas grills are ready to cook in 5 to 10 minutes. Charcoal takes 15 to 20 minutes to be ready for cooking. Plan your cooking time to correspond to when your grill is ready and don’t leave you grill burning any longer than you need to.
Clean your grill while it is still hot after you cook instead of increasing your preheating times. When the grill is cool use a mixture of water and baking soda to clean off the cooking grates.
Clean out your grill regularly. Build up of grease and food particles in your grill will produce unnecessary smoke. Also take this time to clean out grease drip trays under your grill.
Avoid disposable dishes and utensils for your next cook out. A few minutes washing dishes is better than a pile of paper plates and plastic forks in the garbage.
Trim excess fats from meat. Not only will this make your grilling healthier, reduce flare-ups, but also reduce the release of harmful chemicals from the air.
Make informed decisions about your next grill. Unfortunately many grills built today, particularly gas grill, are simply not built to last. Buying a higher quality, longer lasting grill will not only save you money in the long term but reduce the pollution from manufacturing, packaging, shipping and recycling (hopefully) of the grills you buy.
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