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Weekly Tips | May 02, 2014

All Fired Up!

If you're planning on throwing another shrimp on the barbie this grilling season, be on the cookout for ways to steak a claim on behalf of the environment. Charbroiled goodness has an impact on the waste line, so brush up on your grill before manning the tongs this summer. BBQ (Better Be Quick!), Memorial Day is just around the corner, and you'll want to be all fired up!

Charcoal vs. Gas? 

A 2009 study documented that charcoal grills may be less environmentally friendly than gas grills. The study found that charcoal grills emit significantly more carbon dioxide than gas-flamed counterparts. Charcoal grills also release higher levels of volatile organic compounds (VOCs), which contribute to the formation of smog. According to the EPA, not only do VOCs harm the environment, but they pose a hazard to human health as well. 

Verdict: Although gas grills aren’t 100% eco-friendly they are the better alternative.

Do you want to challenge yourself to cook WITHOUT generating carbon dioxide or VOCs? Solar ovens convert the sun’s energy in order to steam, bake or boil a meal. This process does not take long; in fact, cooking with the sun is similar to a conventional oven. Just make sure to follow the sun to optimize cooking time. Are you interested in creating your own solar oven? This step-by-step DIY project will impress anyone who loves to grill.

Empty Tanks

If empty propane tanks are cluttering up your garage, the King County Local Hazardous Waste Program provides information on their proper disposal. Many stores, such as Home Depot, Walgreens and Walmart, also offer exchange programs for when you take your empty tank in to purchase a new one.

Reducing Your Meal’s Footprint

Farmers markets across Washington offer seasonal fruits, vegetables, meats, cheeses and more from local farms. Purchasing your supplies from a farmers market reduces the environmental impact of your fare by reducing the miles it took to get to your table. It also supports local businesses and offers you the freshest food available. Eating green doesn’t mean giving up on burgers, steaks or hot dogs during barbecues, but rather purchasing smart.

Don’t forget to bring a box or bag to store and pack out used recyclables near the barbecuing area. This way guests can place their dirty service-ware in the box to be reused in the future.

Have leftovers? Don’t just throw them in the garbage; pack-out your food scraps. Use a paper bag or other container to collect your food scraps, take them home and drop them into your curbside food and yard waste cart. 

Sources: Earth 911 - Grilling | S" target="_blank">olar Oven Instructions | Washington Farmers Markets | EPA - Indoor Air (VOCs) | Science Direct - Charcoal vs. Gas Study | LHWMP - Disposing Canisters | Home Depot Canister Exchange | Walgreens Canister Exchange | Wal-Mart Canister Exchange

The Big Picture

Roughly 80% of U.S. households own a grill and when lighter fluid is used to fire up coals, 14,500 tons of VOCs are released into the atmosphere per year.

In 2011, carbon dioxide accounted for roughly 84% of all U.S. greenhouse gas emissions. Carbon dioxide is the leading greenhouse gas emitted by human activity. Research found that on average, charcoal grills produce roughly 11 pounds of carbon dioxide per hour, while gas grills produced 5.6 pounds of carbon dioxide. 

Next time you want to throw a barbecue with friends and family, grill green! 

Sources: Huffinting Post | US EPA | GreenYour


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