From: Angela Melton , Ft. Myers Green Community Examiner
Published July 1, 2011 03:20 PM

Red, white, and green: Environmentally friendly 4th of July barbeque

The 4th of July weekend is upon us, which means we're lighting up our grills all across the country. There's nothing like a great bar-b-cue shared with friends and family. With the increasing concern about our health and that of the planet, I'd like to take a few minutes and talk about how you can make your barbeque as environmentally friendly as possible.


Let's start with the issue of trash. To reduce the amount of waste, take time to pre-plan what types of things you will need for your get-together and consider what happens to it when you are done with it. There are plenty of products out on the market today that are recyclable. Make sure you place your trash and recycle bins prominently and together so your guests understand that you want them to put things in their appropriate container.

Even better than recycling, did you know there are actually tableware products out on the market that are compostable? One example is tableware made from a material called bagass (sugar cane fiber), a globally available material, which is formed to make things such as plates, bowls, and cups. Bagass is usually burned, so diverting it to the production of something useful helps prevent air pollution. Plus, it can be recycled to make paper, or it is 100% compost-able. Another way to make tableware is from leaves and water. That's it. There are also utensils made from potato starch and vegetable oil. How cool is that? Check out these and many other environmentally and socially responsible home products at sites such as Branch and VerTerra.

Well, you can't have a barbeque without grilling something. There have long been arguments about which is better, charcoal or gas? So here is the 411. Some believe that electric grill are the way to go since they emit no carbon dioxide. Cooking on an electric grill is actually the cleanest onsite, however, they are actually the worst offenders if you look at the big picture and account for producing and transmitting that electricity. Operating an electric grill for one hour would account for approximately 15 pounds of CO2. So when left with charcoal or gas? Gas wins hands down in burning cleaner and having a smaller carbon footprint emitting about 5.6 pounds of CO2 after an hour of use. However, it is derived from non-renewable fossil fuels. Charcoal and wood both burn "dirtier" than gas emitting around 11 pounds of CO2 in an hour, releasing hydrocarbons and health-harming soot particles directly into the air, but it can be made from renewable resources.

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