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Low carbon barbecue

Memorial Day weekend and the smell of barbecue is in the air. As you pick up the propane tank to check if there’s any juice left from last summer, you may be wondering about the carbon impact of the outdoor grill. A few thoughts:

The actual grilling process isn’t really the big carbon part of this. If you’re using a propane grill, you’d have to make your way through a whole tank of propane (roughly eight and a half hours of cooking on a modern grill) to equal the carbon emissions of the average daily commute (a little under 50 lbs of CO2).

But if you’re inviting friends round for the inaugural 2008 barbecue this weekend, here are a few other things to think about:

  • Consider transportation. Where are your guests coming in from? Can they carpool? Walk or bike? Take public transportation? Make it easy for them.
  • It’s about what you cook, not how you cook it. Think about your actual ingredients. Meat (and especially beef) has a high carbon content. A recent study found that a pound of beef can take 36 times its weight in carbon dioxide to produce. Diversify your menu choices, and buy local, fresh and organic where possible. Where you can’t do all three… well, let’s not get into the local vs organic debate here.
  • Use reusable plates and cutlery. It might seem easier to use the paper plates, but you’ll look so much more sophisticated if you use the real things and wash them afterwards.
  • Lose the heat lamp. The cool evening air just isn’t supposed to be reheated. We’re doing well enough as it is with global warming.
  • Get a keg. Beer tastes much better from a keg than the bottle or can. Serve it in glasses and you won’t have to worry about emptying out those half-drunk cans when you’re clearing up.

And if you’ve been through all of this and you’re still worried about the impact, Climate Change Chocolate has a day’s worth of offsets bundled in, and we hear it makes great s’mores!

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