Barbecuing is my favorite way to entertain. I started to research the environmental effects of barbecuing. With an entire country throwing delicious items on the grill in summer, it all adds up. A great, unexpected resource: sierraclub.org:
“Three out of four U.S. households own at least one barbecue grill. Among grill owners, 48 percent fire up with charcoal, 61 percent with propane, and 7 percent with electricity.
“Nationwide, the estimated 60 million barbecues held on the Fourth of July alone consume enough energy — in the form of charcoal, lighter fluid, gas, and electricity — to power 20,000 households for a year. That one day of fun, food, and celebration, says Tristram West, a research scientist with the U.S. Department of Energy, burns the equivalent of 2,300 acres of forest and releases 225,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide.”
Charcoal briquettes are a true environmental loser – they emit carbon monoxide, particulate matter and soot and lighter fluid gives off more to ground-level ozone.
Are there environmentally sensitive options?
use lump coal instead of briquettes
consider burning propane or using an electric grill
switch to using a chimney starter instead of lighter fluid
use lean meat - you'll reduce the carcinogens that drip onto coals and deposit in meat from smoke and flame ups