Stay safe and keep yourself and the planet healthy this summer with these eco-friendly barbecue tips!
Ahh summer – the season of evenings on the patio watching the fireflies, Saturday afternoons at the pool, and beach vacations – and of course, barbecues! But something nasty may be lurking in this favorite summer pastime….
In today’s world, it’s no secret that hazardous chemicals are everywhere, and summer brings them out in full force. Not only does your exposure to air pollution rise in the summer (many urban areas even release air-quality alerts on extra hot and muggy days), but sunscreens, bug sprays, and even your favorite hotdogs may contain some toxins that you weren’t aware of. Along with buying free-range, organic and humanely raised meats from local farms, there are a number of other things you can do to make your barbecue better for the planet – and for yourself.
To protect yourself, your guests, and the environment this summer, here are a few tips for hosting a safe, healthy and eco-friendly summer barbecue event.
1. Grill Mats and Greener Cleaners
I must admit, I’m in a bit of shock at the current greenwashing tactics being used to sell the so-called nontoxic barbecue grill mats marketed ubiquitously these days. When I first discovered these miracle mats, I was all ears. But, upon further investigation, I discovered these brands are unanimously touting themselves as PFOA-free (that stands for perfluorooctanoic acid). Instead, they’re coated with a synthetic polymer, polytetrafluoroethylene (PTFE), also known as Teflon. According to the scientists at the Environmental Working Group (EWG):
Toxic fumes released from [nonstick] pots and pans at high temperatures may kill pet birds and cause people to develop flu-like symptoms (called “Teflon Flu” or, as scientists describe it, “Polymer fume fever”).
So, no. I would not call these PTFE-coated grill mats nontoxic… In addition, some brands even advertise that they’re BPA-free (Bisphenol-A). Sounds healthy, right? Except that it’s an irrelevant statement. Bisphenol-A is a chemical used to harden polycarbonate plastics, so it would never be required in a soft, flexible grill mat. The verdict? Grill greenwashing: guilty as charged.
So, what’s a healthy-grill-seeking guy or gal to do? Opt instead for good old-fashioned barbecue grilling with aluminum foil or safe stainless steel baskets.
But the toxic buck doesn’t stop there. Most name-brand barbecue grill cleaners (including one uber-popular green brand) are loaded with harmful substances…
Solution? Let robots do the work. If you haven’t heard of the Grillbot, run, don’t walk, to snag one of these cool gadgets. They’ll do all the greasy work for you with the push of a button, powered by a rechargeable battery. If that’s too high-tech for you, clean the grill before and after with half a white onion. You’ll need a long grill fork tool. Be sure to keep the grill hot while you rub the onion along the grills to remove dirt and food debris. For a deeper cleaning, you can make a mixture of baking soda with a few drops of natural dish soap for a more thorough cleaning with a brush and rinse…
2. Toxin-Free Mosquito Control
Pesky. There’s really no other word to describe annoying mosquitoes. But don’t resort to toxic sprays. Instead, try geraniol, a naturally derived ingredient extracted from geranium oil contained in BugBand that is DEET-free. BugBand has been shown in studies to repel mosquitoes, house flies, stable flies, horn flies, fire ants, fleas, gnats, dog ticks, lone star ticks and no-see-ums… BugBand is made with all-natural ingredients and is available in wristbands, towelettes and a spray lotion that’s safe for pets and people…
Just because you’re dining under the sun doesn’t mean you have to pass on the class at your next BBQ. You can keep it luxurious and green by using eco-friendly, disposable napkins that are also compostable! This line from The Napkins will turn your drab to fab by creating an elegant, entertaining tablescape. These eco-chic fiber napkins offer the luxurious appeal of cloth napkins, without water waste and washing headaches. They come in beautiful colors and designs made from bamboo fibers that are 100 percent biodegradable…
4. Reusable Glassware
Chin up! There’s no need to cry over spilled wine — at least not with the gorgeously colorful and reusable cups from Bendiware. Whether you’re clumsy or crafting conscious cocktails and sipping rosé outdoors, these silicone-made wine glasses are flexible, BPA-free (which makes sense in this case!), dishwasher safe and freezable…