Have a green July 4 picnic

Ah, back to nature. Cooking and eating outdoors like our ancestors…. But this rustic scene is not so innocuous. Each July 4, millions of people light their barbecue grills, burning the equivalent of 2,300 acres of forest, emitting nearly 225,000 metric tons of carbon dioxide. Particulates fill the air. Grease burns onto the grills and harsh cleansers are used to clean them. Plastic, paper, and glass trash litter our picnic areas. We throw food away rather than carry it home, accustoming wild animals to finding food in waste bins or thrown on the ground. This is not safe for them or for us.

We can do better than this – and here’s how:






The barbecue: Lighting up the fire doesn’t have to be a soot- and gasoline-smell-producing act. Don’t use lighter fluid to start the barbecue–it contributes to smog. Use a chimney starter instead, a metal cylinder with a handle into which you put your charcoal briquettes. They heat up much faster and require no lighter fluid. Douse them with water after you’re done cooking. This helps prevent fires, and saved briquette pieces make good fixings to start the next barbecue.

The fixins’: Instead of meat, grill tasty vegetable skewers. Healthier for you and the planet! Corn on the cob can be grilled in its husk if you first soak it in water. This eliminates the need for aluminum foil.

The cleanup: Bring reusable utensils and then take them away with you. If you do use disposable plates, utensils, and cups, use ones made from cornstarch or other biodegradable materials. Then take them home and compost them.  Put leftovers in reusable containers and take them home to eat later.  Recycle everything recyclable. Properly dispose of all litter. Clean your grill promptly, using warm water and baking soda, before the burned food hardens and you are tempted to use harsh chemical cleaners.

Afterwards, relax and enjoy food and energy independence!


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