There's a lot of great information in this post and I encourage you to read through it ... however, if you don't have the time right now, you might find the following quick links helpful:
Last week we took on a seemingly innocent activity ... grilling/BBQing. We challenged ourselves to take a look at the environmental costs of cooking our food outdoors and asked questions about which types of fuel are the most earth friendly. Some of you reported back that a common fuel, charcoal briquettes, may contain additives ... toxic chemicals to help the briquettes burn and other chemicals to "glue" them into those cute little shapes. Others talked about using paper & kindling to start a fire. We also considered related issues like the waste involved in this activity and how cooking outdoors can help keep cooling costs down inside a home. It was a fascinating discussion!
The Honor Society are those people who help us spread the "green" word by writing an article about our challenges and/or leaving pertinent comments. Here's what they had to say:
Mrs. Green is passionate about reducing waste so she took a look at the waste involved in cooking and entertaining outdoors. In How to have an eco friendly barbecue she offers some great ideas to "green" up this activity. One of her tips involves disposables ... while she does talk about disposable plates, utensils, etc., she also mentions another disposable. Can you guess what it is? I didn't know these things existed ... what a surprise.
Alicia lives in an area which is hot and humid in the summer so she and her family cook on a grill several times a week. She shares that cooking outside rather than indoors helps to keep her home cooler. What are her favorite foods for outdoor cooking? "We don't eat a lot of meat but we will grill fish and sometimes a small organic chicken but oh do we grill the veggies! One our favorites is to take whole sweet onions drizzle them with olive oil and herbs grill them until they start to turn soft. Oh they are so delicious. Eggplant, squash and thick cut tomatoes are also great to grill. It is fun to experiment with all kinds of food on the grill. Alicia learned that using charcoal briquettes is not environmentally friendly so she uses a gas grill.
EcoGrrl finds it a little hard to think about outdoor cooking when it's cold in her area (she was wearing a sweatshirt as she commented on our challenge). But when it warms up, here's how she grills: "I use a George Foreman electric bbq and don't feel too bad because I purchase the maximum green energy from my power company and that bill is $35/mo. Love love LOVE cutting a peach in half and brushing it with oil & vanilla before grilling - yay summer!"
Argentum Vulgaris doesn't like fire lighters or briquettes or those greasy cubes to light his BBQ. So what does he use? Nope ... not gas. Curious? You know it'll be unique! Find out HERE.
Bret is new to our challenges. Welcome, Bret ... so nice to see you! He says "We love spending time at a lake near our house and will frequently grill out while we're there. We never use charcoal or lighter fluid, instead starting our fires the old-fashioned way, with paper and small kindling. We also make a habit, when we visit the lake, of taking a garbage bag with us and picking up any trash we see in the area where we're hanging out, so that we leave the lake at least a little bit better each time." By the way, be sure to check out Bret's site ... he discusses Eco-travel and shares a lot of great information.
If charcoal isn't treated with fire-starting chemicals or glue, is it an Eco-friendly option? How is charcoal created and where does it come from? You'll find the answers to those questions and more in this POST by EcoWarriorMe. It's fascinating and I learned a lot!
Here's what our Twitter friends had to say about this week's challenge:
- Nothing beats a campfire. We also use a cast iron chimnea with a cooking surface. We have plenty of tree trimmings so fuel is no issue
- A picnic blanket made from recycled jeans is ideal. Sew on back pockets for placing cutlery, cloth napkins, or playing a memory game
- Plant catnip in your outdoor living areas. It helps to deter mosquitoes & makes your backyard meals more enjoyable & chemical free
- How To Make Fire Starters: An easy DIY project from 3 recycled ingredients http://howtofordummies.blogspot.ca/2012/05/how-to-make-fire-starters.html
- Will for sure go for a picnic tomorrow if the weather stays nice, today I had lunch on the terass:)
- Picnics! We take a trip every year to an outdoor theatre & always take a picnic - venue is well stocked with tables!
- we go in a group of friends & I provide the cake for everyone. I try to do a different one each year. It's good to ...
- ... Have seats because I can't sit on the ground for very long without my back hurting. We have picnicked in rain & sun
The #CTWW Gang are those folks who share our challenges on twitter using the hashtag #CTWW. If you're a Twitter member, I highly recommend following them ... they have a lot of great things to say. Let's meet them:
My Final Thoughts:
Cooking outdoors seems like such a small thing. But as we've so often seen with our challenges, the smallest of actions can have a big impact on our environment. There doesn't seem to be a perfect answer when it comes to grilling ... each method uses fuel. Some types of fuel come with additives ... other types of fuel pollute the air as they burn ... and still others are petroleum based. There is waste to consider ... both from the fuel and the utensils we use to make this activity convenient. There are trade-offs to think about ... is using a grill better than heating up our homes when cooking inside ... is an electric grill the best choice if we purchase green energy? As with many activities, there isn't a perfect choice ... one which doesn't have a carbon footprint. So, we have to educate ourselves and then make the best choice possible.
Thanks, everyone! If you wrote an article, I have Stumbled, Tweeted, Facebooked and posted it on Google +. You can help spread the "green" word by using the share feature at the bottom of this post.
This Week's Challenge:
I've been reading about Permaculture lately. Mrs. Green had a good POST about it. So did Lynn Fang (read it HERE). And in this ARTICLE by Natural News, you'll get a pretty good idea of what, exactly, Permaculture is. In simple terms, it's applying ethics and environmental sustainability to our lives. That sounds great, right? But how do we get started? That's where this week's challenge comes in. Here you go ...
The first step in practicing permaculture is to observe. So this week, let's start by observing nature. Take some time, step outside and observe everything around you. Look at sunlight patterns and the direction of plant growth. Are the plants in your area native and how does that affect their growth and care? Make note of where water collects on your property and where it comes from. Observe the phases of the moon and consider how that affects the natural world. Pay attention to insects and birds ... observe how their interaction with plants, animals and each other affects the environment. Then, come back here and report your findings. Were you surprised at anything you discovered? Will you make any changes based on your observations? We want to hear it all!
So what do you think? Are you up for this challenge? I know that you are!
Until next time ...
WE'RE CHANGING THE WORLD ... ONE CHALLENGE AT A TIME!