What’s the Greenest Grilling Option?

by Betty on August 13, 2012

It wouldn’t be summer without gathering friends over for a barbecue, right?

Unfortunately, grilling just like campfires and chimney fires in winter contributes to greenhouse gas emissions and polluted air.  So this eco-question comes down to which option is the lesser of two (or more) evils.

This spring I looked into which choice would be practical for me and my family and the cleanest burning for the planet.

Since most of our power in Virginia is generated by coal plants, I opted out of any electric models. When considering the environmental cost of producing the electricity, they create about 15 lbs of carbon dioxide according to the US DOE’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory.

Solar grills do exist and perhaps with recent heat waves are more and more viable, but they were out of my price range.

So propane gas grill won out as the cleanest burning and practical option, producing 5.6 lbs of carbon dioxide compared to 11 lbs of greenhouse gas carbon dioxide and less soot than charcoal grills.

Can’t do without charcoal?  Plenty alternatives to the old-style charcoal briquettes exist that offer less deforestation, fewer gas and soot emissions, and healthier food. Read labels and look for the FSC (Forest Stewardship Council) label. They have stringent guidelines which require the use of sustainably harvested wood. I’ve even seen one brand made of coconut husks.  Stay away from the liquid lighter fluid by using natural wood lighters or cubes.

Finally, if you’re replacing an old grill, properly recycle by 1-cleaning it 2-taking off the plastic buttons to recycle 3- deliver to our local scrap metal dealer Cycle Systems. Propane tanks get recycled ad infinitum by taking to any Blue Rhino exchange center.


Source: National Geographic’s Green Guide for Familieshttp://www.bluerhino.com/BRWEB/Help/Recycle-Your-Grill.aspx

Photo: LIFE magazine cover from 50’s

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