How to have an eco friendly barbecue

family-bbqThis week Small Footprints is sending us out into the garden.

No, we haven’t been naughty; she wants us to think about Barbecue habits for ‘Change the World Wednesday“.

Most of us love a barbecue from time to time but they aren’t always the most eco friendly option. There are many reasons why but today I’m focusing mainly on the waste aspect.

At the end of a barbecue you can end up with a lot of rubbish from disposable plates, food packaging, cans and bottles. Fortunately there are many ways to make your barbecue a landfill-friendly celebration!


By using your local butcher you’re helping to support the local economy. Some butchers will even let you take your own containers for filling! Even if your butcher doesn’t allow you to use your own containers, most use thin plastic bags instead of the thick plastic trays that supermarkets use. This means you’ll dramatically reduce the amount of rubbish you are left to dispose of.


The jury is still out on whether eating a meat-free diet is better for the environment but it seems to be true that you can feed more people from a field of grain than a field of cows. Why not introduce some veggie options at your barbecue? Try crudités and a selection of dips, tofu, mushrooms, tomatoes and peppers on skewers and a selection of rice and pasta salads.


Use a local baker if you can. Once again this supports the local economy and in many bakers you’ll find your purchases give you in paper bags or you can even shop naked! By using a bread machine you can make bread while you sleep; you’ll save money and packaging too.

If you buy shop-bought bread or rolls, opt for the brands with the stretchy plastic bags – these are LDPE and can be recycled in some supermarkets with the carrier bags


Visit your local farmers market for salads and veggies to go with your barbecue. You’ll be able to buy exactly the amount you want without any packaging. If you use a supermarket look for loose options such as tomatoes and peppers to help prevent food waste. If you buy prepackaged, do the stretch test! Remember, if the packaging stretches without breaking, you’ve got LDPE which can be recycled with some supermarket carrier bags


If you’ve got cooked leftover meat, store it in a lidded container as soon as it has cooled down and put in the fridge. You can make sandwiches, curries or a casserole from your leftovers to save wasting food. Likewise, salads and vegetables can be made into soups or chopped up and stirred through cooked rice or pasta.


Avoid disposable table wear if possible. Most ‘paper plates’ are bonded onto plastic which means they take ages to biodegrade. If you can bear the washing up, stick to your every day crockery, but if you’re catering for a lot of people keep a look out for compostable crockery. These are made from plant fibres and can be added to your compost heap once you’ve finished eating. Used serviettes can be composted too.


Avoid disposable barbecues too! These once-use disposable items are not a good use of resources. It’s easy to knock up a make shift barbecue from some old house bricks and the shelves from your oven. Choosing the right fuel is important as well; conventional barbecue briquettes are not good for the environment or your health as they are doused in lighter fluid which releases potential carcinogens into the air (and your food). Try and source local charcoal that is bound with vegetable starch (rather than petroleum) if you can or use wood instead and cook campfire style. Better still use a solar oven and cut out the particulates!


Provide a container for your guests to throw their empty tins and bottles, put it out for your next kerbside collection and you’ll have had a barbecue to remember with your conscience intact!

1 Comment

  1. Zoe @ecothrifty on May 2, 2012 at 5:54 pm

    Really helpful tips, I will definitely think more about what I burn in the bbq this summer, if anything at all!