Eco-friendly BBQ – how to.

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To put things right at the beginning: I LOVE BBQ. Therefore, you will understand how shocked I was, when I read that grilling is „far from an eco-friendly experience“.  But, as so often, when you read headlines in the internet I found out that it is not as bad and that I can easily become an eco-friendly griller.
That is why this sustainability challenge is not „STOP BBQ NOW“, but „Become a eco-friendly griller“.
Please find in this newsletter steps you can take to reduce the environmental impact of grilling.

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QUICK INTRO IN ECO-FRIENDLY BBQ:
Steven Skerlos, Professor at the University of Michigan College of Engineering explains the impact of grilling on the environment and gives tips on how to reduce your carbon footprint, whether working with a gas or charcoal grill.

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A. CHOOSING THE RIGHT GRILL

[/heading][vc_column_text]Discussing with my friends, if a charcoal or a gas grill is the best choice reminds me of our discussions if snowboarding or skiing (me) is the real winter sport.  One half prefers gas and the other half charcoal grills. But we all agree that electric grilling is not BBQ (like I think cross country skiing is jogging on snow and not skiing). 
I prefer a gas grill as it has quick start times, year-round usability, temperature consistency and minimal cleanup.[/vc_column_text][divider line_type=”No Line” custom_height=”50″][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/2″][vc_text_separator title=”CHARCOAL / WOOD GRILL” title_align=”separator_align_center”][vc_column_text]

Charcoal is considered as the real grilling and is widely embraced for the taste charcoal adds to food. But charcoal
  • releases twice as much carbon as a gas grill (source: Tristam West of the Department of Energy’s Natural Laboratory)
  • are proven contributors to ground-level ozone, as well as the lighter fluid (Source: EPA. US Environmental Protection Agency)
  • release particulate matter into the air, which means that prolonged exposure can have a negative impact on human health.

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Even gas grill produce half of the carbon as a charcoal grill and emit less smoke / particulate, you need to remember that they are fueled from non-renewable fossil fuels.

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Tipps for a more ecofriendly charcoal grilling
  • Use natural and additive free lump charcoal or briquettes / „ecologische houtskool briquettes.Natural charcoals and charcoal are made from furniture scraps and waste wood without additives and binders and make a cleaner fire that not only reduces your pollution output but improve your grilling experience.
  • Use charcoal made from coconut shells (kokosbriketten), Albert Heijn has them
  • use a charcoal chimney (as opposed to lighter fluid)
  • Defenetily use FSC-Certified Charcoal

 

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Tipps for a more eco-friendly gas grilling
  • Make sure the gas tanks are refillable
  • Use natural gas, which burns much cleaner than propane.
  • Clean your grill after you’ve eaten and while it’s still hot, rather than heating it up early next time and burning more fuel.
  • Invest in a high-quality and energy efficient model. Unfortunately many grills built today, particularly gas grill, are simply not built to last. Buying a higher quality, longer lasting grill will not only save you money in the long term but reduce the pollution from manufacturing, packaging, shipping and recycling (hopefully) of the grills you buy

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When you do not have the place for a charcoal or gas grill, then you might thinking about an electric grill. They are a good choice if your home power is from green rather than traditional sources; otherwise these grills have the highest carbon footprint.

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Newer and potentially Greener Grills continue to emerge, including pellet grills and hybrid grills, which optimize electricity but accommodate small amounts of charcoal and wood for flavoring purposes. These grills are harder to find, but they’re emerging as a new trend.

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B. CHOOSING THE RIGHT CHARCOAL

[/heading][vc_column_text]Charcoal is made by heating woody materials to high temperatures in an environment with little or no oxygen (pyrolysis). The heating removes water and gases that are in the wood, leaving behind charcoal.  Depending on the type of process use will also determine how “dirty” the charcoal production is. Traditional methods require a great deal of fuel to generate the charcoal and also create the most emissions. The retort method, where the gases are rerouted through the fire heating the wood and burned as a booster is a much cleaner and more efficient method.[/vc_column_text][divider line_type=”No Line” custom_height=”25″][vc_gallery type=”image_grid” interval=”3″ images=”34527,34531,34532,34519″ layout=”4″ gallery_style=”1″ onclick=”link_image” custom_links_target=”_self” img_size=”180″][divider line_type=”No Line” custom_height=”50″][vc_row_inner][vc_column_inner width=”1/3″][vc_column_text]

1. Briquettes: Charcoal briquettes can contain Wood charcoal, Coal, Limestone, Starch AND additives, like borax, sodium nitrate, sawdust, lighter fluid. While starch isn’t really a concern, the other components are a bit of a worry; not just because food is in direct contact with the emissions, but also general air pollution concerns. Given the mix of possible components, it’s not just soot and carbon dioxide being produced, but also mercury and other nasties.

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2. Lump charcoal: Lump charcoal is made from wood only – there are no additives. The major concern here is that in some countries, the charcoal industry isn’t based on sustainable forestry; so it contributes to deforestation. Additionally, imported charcoal also adds to transport related emissions.

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3. “Green” charcoal: As charcoal can be made from just about any woody type substance and wood waste; there are some products available on the market that have been sustainably sourced.
  • charcoal made from coconut shells (kokosbriketten)
  • charcoal and charcoal briquette alternatives are made from newspaper and others from the scrap from lumber mills.
  • charcoal produced in your own area

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C. MEAL PLANNING

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For me BBQ and beef just belong together. However, it is more environmental friendly if you …

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  • opt for chicken or fish, or even vegetarian options. Cutting back on red meat and focusing on chicken, fish, and vegetables will help reduce the carbon footprint of your meals by up to 50%.
  • serve more generous portions of vegetarian fare as entrée rather than a grilled side dishes
  • grill food that will be used for more than one meal, extra veggies to make a grilled vegetable salad or extra chicken for sandwiches (for the next day)
  • put as much food on the grill as possible to increase efficiency and reduce CO2 emissions
  • Reduce preheat times. Most gas grills are ready to cook in 5 to 10 minutes. Charcoal takes 15 to 20 minutes to be ready for cooking. Plan your cooking time to correspond to when your grill is ready and don’t leave you grill burning any longer than you need to.
  • Spend the extra money to invest in organic, sustainably raised meat and veggies

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D. CLEAN UP

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Finally some ideas, how to clean up eco friendly.

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  • Get rid of disposable plates, napkins, and cups, opting for washable and reusable supplies instead. It looks nicer, too.
  • Clean your grill while it is still hot after you cook instead of increasing your preheating times.
  • When the grill is cool use a mixture of water and baking soda to clean off the cooking grates.
  • Clean out your grill regularly. Build up of grease and food particles in your grill will produce unnecessary smoke. Also take this time to clean out grease drip trays under your grill.

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