Green BBQ

The Peterborough Evening Telegraph - - Green Issues -

Noth­ing says sum­mer like a bar­be­cue - even if that means chomp­ing into a burger un­der a rain-drenched gazebo in the gar­den...

DE­SPITE the driz­zle last sum­mer, more than 120 mil­lion bar­be­cues were had in Bri­tain, ac­cord­ing to the Na­tional Bar­be­cue As­so­ci­a­tion, mak­ing the UK the bar­be­cue cap­i­tal of Europe.

What a shame then, that bar­be­cu­ing can be such a ecoun­friendly prac­tice. Land­fill-des­tined dis­pos­able BBQs, car­bon-heavy char­coal bri­quettes and a menu full of beef burg­ers can raise your car­bon foot­print ex­po­nen­tially. But tak­ing a few sim­ple steps - such as think­ing re­us­able and com­postable over dis­pos­able cut­lery, or grilling more veg in­stead of meat - can di­min­ish your bar­be­cue foot­print with­out im­pact­ing your en­joy­ment of this favourite sum­mer pas­time.


There’s noth­ing like the spon­tane­ity of a last-minute bar­be­cue, with a dis­pos­able BBQ, a few sausages and some Pimms to wash them down.

But un­less you take your bar­bie home with you to re­cy­cle, it ends up in land­fill along with ev­ery­one else’s - not to men­tion all those beer cans and wine bot­tles.

Your green­est op­tion, then, is to go for a re­us­able bar­bie, like the Whistable Bucket BBQ (£21) or Holkham BBQ (£35, both from ECOut­, both of which are re­us­able, light­weight and por­ta­ble - fea­tur­ing a bucket, tray to put your eco char­coal on and grid­dle. All you have to do is chuck your ash in the bin and take your bar­bie home with you once the meal’s over.

If you’re go­ing for some­thing more per­ma­nent than a re­us­able port-a-BBQ, how­ever, you’re go­ing to have to do some se­ri­ous shop­ping. Most bar­be­cues these days are full- on, ro­tis­serie-style burn­ers with mul­ti­ple rings that re­quire a whole lot of gas or elec­tric­ity, nei­ther of which helps your eco cre­den­tials.


Much has been said about the best - and green­est - fu­els to light the bar­bie, with the eco-friendli­est op­tion be­ing an liq­uid petroleum gas or sus­tain­able char­coal num­ber.

While gas is more fuel-ef­fi­cient in the long run, char­coal is car­bon-neu­tral, burn­ing off car­bon that’s been locked in the tree from which it came.

The black mark against char­coal, how­ever, has to be the fact that most bri­quettes are com­prised of hard­wood cut from de­vel­op­ing coun­tries’ trop­i­cal forests and sold on to in­ter­na­tional mar­kets. As re­search has found that 80% of the char­coal burnt in Bri­tain is im­ported, your BBQ fuel is most likely not only help­ing de­for­esta­tion in some of the world’s most vul­ner­a­ble ar­eas, it’s also con­tribut­ing to air miles.

The good news is that some re­tail­ers, such as Eth­i­calSu­per­, Home­base, Sains­bury’s and B&Q, sell an eco-friendly char­coal (BioRe­gional) that is both FSC (For­est Stew­ard­ship Coun­cil) cer­ti­fied and home-grown in sus­tain­able forests here in the UK - and boasts some 85% fewer emis­sions than im­ported char­coal.

You can re­duce your car­bon foot­print even fur­ther by avoid­ing self-light­ing bri­quettes and find­ing bits and pieces around the house to light your char­coal in­stead. Waste paper such as toi­let roll in­nards and twigs, fir cones and kin­dling in the gar­den all work a treat. You can also use the ash as a mulch in your house­plants later.

So what about that gas bar­be­cue in your back gar­den? Well, as most gas bar­be­cues use propane or bu­tane to cook with, both of which are fos­sil fu­els, you can wave any at­tempts at car­bon neu­tral­ity on that one good­bye.

Liq­uid petroleum gas (LPG) is the friendli­est op­tion of all gas-range BBQs, emit­ting less CO2 than elec­tric­ity - and around 100 times less CO2 than the av­er­age char­coal bri­quette.

As for elec­tric BBQs, un­less you hap­pen to source your elec­tric­ity from an eco-friendly source such as wind or so­lar power, there’s re­ally no need to go there: Taste and en­ergy-wise, elec­tric BBQs are an em­bar­rass­ment to the sum­mer months.

If you want to give all tra­di­tional fu­els a miss al­to­gether, then a great sin­gle-use, re­cy­clable and eco-friendly op­tion is the FlameDisk (£4.99 from Fire­, which re­quires no lighter fluid, char­coal or gas. In­stead, they use so­lid­i­fied and re­new­able ethanol to light your BBQ, ready in a mat­ter of sec­onds for up to 40 min­utes at a time. FlameDisk wins ex­tra points for its fully re­cy­clable alu­minium shell, not to men­tion the nat­u­ral flame-grilled flavour in­fused in ev­ery disk.


Meat lovers should know by now that meat con­sump­tion is re­spon­si­ble for a large amount of the meth­ane present in the Earth’s at­mos­phere - meth­ane be­ing one of the main con­trib­u­tors to global warm­ing. So if you re­ally want to have an eco bar­bie, you’ll have to in­vest in some veg, fish or meat-free burg­ers to throw on the grill.

Fish such as wild or farmed salmon and tilapia is great on the grill. Wrap it up en­velopestyle in alu­minium foil and let it steam while on the grill - adding a douse of white wine will spice it up, as will a few sprigs of rose­mary.

If you must, must, must have a more ‘tra­di­tional’ BBQ meat on the grill, then go for lamb over beef, as lambs are grass fed and more of­ten al­lowed to roam free than cat­tle.

Fish and veg are an eco-friendly

al­ter­na­tive to meat

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