Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Green Cookout Challenge: 12 Burgers & 1 Trash Bag

At last it's here: our first big cook out in Kentucky! First off, thanks to all that showed up; I hope you had a lovely time at our abode.
Secondly, before I post whether we were successful in trashing only one bag, let’s first go over how you can make a cookout greener.

Take tinfoil for example. The husband does not use it much on the grill. For example, instead of using foil to keep food warm, he used some baking pans & covers. And when it comes to grilling veggies, he has a great grill skillet! If we do end up using tinfoil, we use recycled. And thanks to Reynold's, it's everywhere at a good price.

Then there is all the equipment for guests: napkins, cutlery, plates, etc. Here's a quick look at what we did.
Cups, platter, plates, napkins & a neat little can cooler- all from the Dollar Tree!

Let's first look into cutlery. Plastic can be wasteful. Recycled or biodegradable (normally bamboo or sugar cane fibers) are expensive. But for the record, big name stores now offer biodegradable products. But first, try using cheap sets of reusable metal cutlery. Some folks even wash plastic! We just used our regular silverware.

The same goes for napkins. You can try recycled. But if you use biodegradable, remember that you should not toss any items with grease or cheese into your compost pile. Cheese, grease and meat products attract vermin and smell horrid during decomposition. So, we used cloth napkins. Basically, I bought some dishtowels from the Dollar Tree (LOVE!) and they were so big, I was able to cut them in half…. So 10 cloth napkins for $5? I can do that.

I was also lucky enough to have clean guests! Forgive the blurriness, but here’s a photo of some of the guys enjoying the cook out. Hi Guys!

Always enjoy a good cookout!

Then there are plates… and cups. Several stores offer biodegradable plates (recycled paper, fallen leaves, sugar cane & bamboo) that you can just add to your compost pile. You can also take the route of reusable, BPA free plastic plates, which are also available at most mega-stores. But us? I found a huge deal on plastic plates (which are probably loaded with BPA; I didn’t think of that when I bought them) & cups at the Dollar Tree! But I soon found out why the cups were so cheap. Not only did they smell like burning (literally), but it was impossible to get the sticker glue off. Despite our desperate attempts of soaking and scrubbing them… again… and again… and again.

Scrub & Soak, Scrub & Soak, Scrub & Soak, Scrub & Soak...

But it was still worth it. By changing the guest supplies, we cut down on a lot of trash. And while it may take more time to clean up afterwards, it’s still better than adding to the ever-growing trash in our landfills.

Now comes the debate: Charcoal vs. Propane. Propane is technically greener because the gas burns clean. But it's a by-product of natural gas processing and crude oil refining (aka fossile fuels). We use charcoal at our house. There are some kinds of charcoal out there that are free of additives, but the husband is sold on his Kingsford original. He pretty much looks like this:

My Photoshop Skills At Work
Another way to make your charcoal usage greener is to not use lighter fluid. And one of the easiest, cheapest ways to go is getting a charcoal chimney. Since we have one, we will never need to use lighter fluid again!

As for food, I hope some of you were able to read my "You Are What You Eat" post. Same holds true here. Turkey/ Chicken hotdogs are healthier (we like the cheesey kind) and you always want to go with local, grass fed beef. We are at least going to a local butcher, where the cow may not always be from our area, but it's at least sliced & processed in the building.

5.5lb of ground beef for $15.40!
And as an extra note: if you're looking for beef in your normal, mega-grocery store, Laura's Lean is the way to go. The company is based in Lexington, KY, and the cows are raised without antibiotics or hormones and eat a proper, vegetarian diet.

I also have to take the time to show our local farmers market. For our cook out we picked up a dozen ears of corn and a watermelon for $10! Throw in some banana nut bread and it was a delicious time!

I should also share that Barger Burgers (ha!) are much more than just ground beef patties on the grill. Maybe I'll share the husband's recipe sometime.
Oh, and as for the challenge, we accomplished using one bag! Ta daaa! Though as a side note, if we did have a compost pile, half of the trash would be in the pile; like the corn husks, watermelon rind, etc.

So all in all, I think it was pretty successful. We had a great cookout, easily had only one bag of trash, and found some great ways to save the world and our bank account. I think one of the hardest accomplishments is to make the “green” sacrifices without loosing the fun and taste of a good ole fashion cook out. And I hope this entry helps you keep your next outing in a perfect balance.

1 comment:

  1. Great times with great people, and you met your goal! I'd say the green cookout was a success! Thanks for having us over. Great blog design, btw.