As the days get longer and temperatures get hotter, we look for any excuse to eat, drink, and sleep outdoors…and as many of us know, the best way to enjoy food, drinks and the outdoors is with a barbecue.
But think back to the last barbecue you were at, chances are that on your way out you noticed a large amount of bottles, plastic containers, paper plates, and other single-use materials left in the wake of the outdoor culinary celebration. If you have found yourself in this situation, fear not…for there are plenty of things you can do to host a barbecue that is both fun and waste-free!
1. Snack and Apps
Everyone loves passing around small snacks and appetizers while the main course is still on the grill. Go to the bulk section of your local grocery store and pick up pretzels, dried fruits, nuts and whatever else your heart desires…just as long as you skip the premade vegetable trays wrapped in plastic.
2. Make Your Own Condiments
Preparing your own condiments not only allows you to skip purchasing the pre-made stuff in plastic or glass containers but also lets you make a large amount for all your guests while having more control over the ingredients. A simple Google search will reveal plenty of recipes ready to help you cultivate your own condiments.
3. Low-Waste Drinks
Skip single-use plastic water bottles and serve water, tea, lemonade, etc in glasses from a pitcher. If your friends like beer and your guest list is large enough, get a keg and serve it in your reusable cups instead of plastic party cups.
Most BBQ’s find everyone eating off paper plates with disposable cutlery. You can minimize your waste by serving everything on reusable plates. If your friends have a tendency to get a little rowdy and you’re afraid they might chip or break your dishes, head to the nearest thrift store and pick up a selection of plates and silverware for cheap and become the proud new owner of a designated BBQ dish collection.
If you do end up going the way of the paper plate, buy ones made from recycled paper, and remember to compost them in your backyard compost pile after they’ve been used!
5. Enlist Your Friends
Help spread the waste-free love by encouraging your friends to bring homemade dishes in reusable containers. To avoid this request becoming a chore, put a fun spin on it by setting up a Tumblr or Pinterest board showcasing a variety of low-waste recipes or products with recyclable packaging. Send the link out to all of your guests and challenge them to cook-up a mouthwatering side dish.
6. Prepare For The Inevitable
Despite all of your waste saving efforts, it’s almost guaranteed that you will be left with some waste. Hopefully, whatever is left is recyclable or compostable. Let your friends help you properly dispose of any leftover materials by setting out clearly labeled containers for recyclable and compostable leftovers.