Tips for hosting an Eco-Friendly Outdoor Event!
Did you know that July holds the distinguished title of National Grilling Month? It makes sense. The skies are blue, the smell of fresh-cut grass is in the air, and that summertime vitality surges through us, inspiring us to celebrate the beauty of summer by enjoying a backyard barbeque with our closest friends and family.
But before you break out your Kiss the Cook apron and light up the grill, consider how your outdoor hosting and barbeque habits may impact the health of our planet. Disposable cutlery, paper plates and cups, and coal-burning grills aren’t exactly eco-friendly.
So, how can you entertain outdoors in an eco-friendly way?
To take your events outside and enjoy all that summer has to offer without compromising the environment, here are 8 of our favorite tips for hosting an eco-friendly outdoor party!
#1 Create a Comfy Yet Sustainable Backyard Vibe
Forget Netflix and chill. This summer’s motto is grill and chill (while promoting sustainable habits, of course). By purchasing recycled outdoor furniture, you can create the ultimate eco-friendly backyard lounge—perfect for hosting summer barbeques.
Check out Polywood—an eco-friendly company that uses recycled ocean-bound plastic to create stylish, all-weather outdoor furniture. Decorate your space with Adirondack chairs, chaise lounges, dining tables, and even swings.
Polywood’s sustainably designed lumber is resistant to stains and corrosion, and also comes with a 20-year warranty so you never have to worry about splinters, cracks, or rot. It’s a win for your backyard and the environment.
Finish your look with an indoor/outdoor rug from Fab Habitat. This collection is made from 100% recycled soda bottles!
#2 Spruce it Up with Eco-Friendly Decor
Flimsy paper and plastic tablecloths that fly up with the slightest gust of wind are relics of the past. This summer, beautify your bbq with Wolf & Irving’s chic tablecloths, table runners, placemats, and cloth napkins made from recycled plastic bottles. By choosing sustainable table linens, you don’t have to waste time (or money) purchasing disposable alternatives that deplete our natural resources and contribute to our planet’s pollution.
Wolf & Irving’s linens aren’t only durable—they’re also stain resistant and machine washable, making clean-up a cool summer breeze. Ahh.
#3 Choose the Right Grill
Despite their popularity, charcoal grills are greenhouse gas-generating nightmares. In fact, charcoal grills produce three times as much carbon dioxide as gas grills.
For a more eco-friendly grilling option, choose to grill with either:
- A gas grill – Despite their use of natural gases, gas grills offer a more energy-efficient grilling option. Compared to other types of grills, gas grills emit the least amount of carbon dioxide, produce less smoke, and preheat faster (meaning they use less energy and heat in the long run).
- An electric grill – Solar powered electric grills, such as the GoSun Grill, use the natural energy of the sun to heat up five times faster than charcoal grills and serve up eco-friendly bbq favorites.
If you must use a charcoal grill for your barbeques, consider implementing the following tips to foster greater sustainability:
- Clean your grill – Ensuring your grill is free of built-up grease and food particles can prevent unnecessary smoke production and speed up your preheat times.
- Choose “cleaner” charcoal – Traditional self-lighting charcoal briquettes are comprised of wood byproducts, lighter fluid, and additives such as borax and sodium nitrate. When they burn, they release dangerous volatile organic compounds (VOCs) into the air. By replacing these traditional charcoals with natural, lump charcoals made from organic hardwood material or bamboo, you can reduce the amount of VOCs released into the atmosphere and create a cleaner fire.
#4 Add eco-friendly Fuel to the Fire
Charcoal briquettes aren’t the only source of VOCs. The petroleum-based lighter fluids that are often used to light grills also release these volatile compounds into the atmosphere. In fact, every year, Americans release over 14,000 tons of VOCs into the air by burning roughly 46,000 tons of lighter fluid.
For a more eco-friendly alternative to lighter fluid, choose:
- A charcoal chimney – This metal tube can heat up coals with matches or ignited newspaper. Check out the Charcoal Chimney from EcoCharcoal, a company on a mission to reduce the impact on the environment with eco-friendly grilling.
- An electric charcoal starter – Although electric charcoal starters take slightly longer to light your coals, they don’t require lighters or matches. The Looft Lighter offers the quickest, safest, and easiest way to light your grill or fire in 60 seconds.
- A natural combustion agent – A natural combustion agent, such as fatwood, can be used as effective kindling for starting a fire. You can find Fatwood at your local hardware store.
#5 Purchase an Eco-Friendly Grill Kit
To host eco-friendly grill-outs all summer long (and for summers to come), consider investing in an eco-friendly grill kit that uses recycled stainless steel, bamboo, or organic cotton. Certain kits supply you with quality barbeque tools, such as:
- Basting brushes
- Hot mitts
#6 Source Local Foods
Complement the fresh summer air by cooking up fresh ingredients purchased from local sources. The difference in taste is reason enough to choose locally sourced foods, but the difference in environmental impact makes this eco-friendly idea even sweeter.
Here’s why: When food has to travel far distances from farmer to the grocery store, it’s typically packaged in non-recycled plastics and transported by planes or trucks—the two modes of transportation responsible for producing the greatest amount of carbon emissions.
By choosing to purchase locally-grown ingredients, you can help reduce the demand for these transported foods. Plus, it gives you an excuse to explore farmer’s markets in your area, connect with members of your community, and boost the local economy. Just don’t forget to bring your own reusable grocery bags with you. (Check out BlueAvocado for eco-friendly options made from ocean-bound plastics.)
Consider swapping your grilled meats for plant-based alternatives to further reduce your carbon and water footprint during bbq season. Compared to a serving size of vegetables, one study found that a serving size of meat is linked to 20 times more greenhouse gas emissions.
Rather than cooking up a beefy burger, try:
- A grilled portobello mushroom cap
- A hearty slice of eggplant
- A meat alternative, such as Beyond Burger or Impossible Burger
You can even find delicious veggie burger recipes online that utilize everything from black beans to chickpeas to sweet potatoes and rice, so you can create your own healthy, plant-based option. Check out some of our favorites here!
#7 Stock Up on eco-friendly Supplies
Did you know it takes 8 gallons of water to produce one paper plate? That’s about how much water your dishwasher uses to clean an entire load of dishes. And while the dishes in your dishwasher return to your cupboards, disposable plates, cups, and napkins end up in the trash.
This summer, stock up on eco-friendly outdoor event supplies that your guests and the planet will thank you for. Our favorites include:
- Made By Design Serving Ware – Whether you’re serving up grilled ears of corn, crunchy tortilla chips, or slices of juicy watermelon, Made By Design offers durable serving platters and serving bowls made from 70% recycled plastic bottles. Plus, they’re dishwasher safe, making them the new eco-friendly staple of all your summer cookouts.
- Preserve 100% Recycled Tableware – Preserve is redefining plastic tableware with 100% recyclable plates, bowls, and cups made from 100% recycled plastic and designed to withstand thousands of uses. They’re durable, dishwasher safe, and if you ever want to replace them, you can return them to Preserve where they’ll be recycled again! Plus, they’re available in fun summer colors, such as pepper red and candy green.
- Igloo ECOCOOL Cooler – To preserve the coolness of your drinks and the health of the planet, invest in an ECOCOOL cooler from Igloo. The ECOCOOL collection features the world’s first hardside coolers made with post-consumer recycled plastic from items such as yogurt cups and milk jugs.
If you’re entertaining in your own backyard consider using your own washable dishware, glassware, and serving wear that you use inside. Although you may run the risk of breaking a glass or chipping a dish, you won’t run the risk of polluting our planet.
Regardless of how you choose to serve your summertime favorites, remind your guests to bring their own reusable containers to take any leftovers home with them!
#8 Provide Recycling Bins
For disposable items you can’t avoid using, try to replace them with 100% recyclable alternatives to help reduce the amount of waste in our landfills and promote sustainability, when these products are recycled properly. Otherwise, they can end up polluting our environment or sitting in landfills for hundreds of years as they slowly decompose.
Provide your guests with recycling bins, and make sure they understand what items can and can’t be recycled. We like Brabantia’s 40-liter Sort & Go bins because it’s space-efficient and has a large handle for easy carrying, and is Cradle-to-Cradle® Certified which means they “meet strict requirements for (re)use of materials, renewable energy, water stewardship, and social fairness.”
For a quick guide for what can/cannot be recycled at home, check out our blog on this topic here!
Refresh Your Summer BBQs with ZenWTR
To keep your guests hydrated while you host, stock your cooler with ZenWTR. Made with ultra-pure, vapor distilled Alkaline water, ZenWTR is the first and only beverage in the world that’s delivered to you in a bottle made from 100% recycled, certified ocean-bound plastic. In fact, each ZenWTR bottle is created from up to 5 ocean-bound plastic bottles, preventing them from polluting our oceans and endangering our marine wildlife.
This year, don’t just celebrate the summer—celebrate the planet by choosing ZenWTR.
Green Matters. The Environmental Pros and Cons of Charcoal: Can It Be Eco-Friendly? https://www.greenmatters.com/p/eco-friendly-charcoal
EcoWatch. 4 Steps to a Climate-Friendly Summer Cookout. https://www.ecowatch.com/eco-friendly-cookout-2639005908.html
The Spruce Eats. Green Grilling for a Better Cookout. https://www.thespruceeats.com/green-grilling-basics-334977
EPA. Fast Facts on Transportation Greenhouse Gas Emissions. https://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/fast-facts-transportation-greenhouse-gas-emissions
One Green Planet. Study Finds Environmental Impact of Meat Versus Vegetables is Staggering. https://www.onegreenplanet.org/environment/study-environmental-impact-meat-vs-veggies-staggering/#:~:text=The%20environmental%20impact%20of%20meat,the%20water%20impact%20of%20nuts.
 Green Matters. The Environmental Pros and Cons of Charcoal: Can It Be Eco-Friendly? https://www.greenmatters.com/p/eco-friendly-charcoal
 EcoWatch. 4 Steps to a Climate-Friendly Summer Cookout. https://www.ecowatch.com/eco-friendly-cookout-2639005908.html
 The Spruce Eats. Green Grilling for a Better Cookout. https://www.thespruceeats.com/green-grilling-basics-334977
 EPA. Fast Facts on Transportation Greenhouse Gas Emissions. https://www.epa.gov/greenvehicles/fast-facts-transportation-greenhouse-gas-emissions
 One Green Planet. Study Finds Environmental Impact of Meat Versus Vegetables is Staggering. https://www.onegreenplanet.org/environment/study-environmental-impact-meat-vs-veggies-staggering/#:~:text=The%20environmental%20impact%20of%20meat,the%20water%20impact%20of%20nuts.
 EcoWatch. 4 Steps to a Climate-Friendly Summer Cookout. https://www.ecowatch.com/eco-friendly-cookout-2639005908.html