With Labor Day just around the corner and summer coming to a close, backyard barbecues and other get-togethers abound. However, entertaining doesn’t have to mean mountains of waste and cheap disposable party favors. Recyclable materials you have lying around your house can be transformed into easy decorations. I made these simple paper fans (easy tutorial here) out of old newspapers and magazines to hang from trees in the backyard. Just make sure they are tied securely so that they don’t fly away, and recycle them after the party!
Simple steps such as sending out e-vites instead of paper invitations can help make sure that friends and family stay informed, without the waste. When it comes to convenience, some of the biggest environmental offenders are unrecyclable paper plates, cups, and utensils. Reusable items are the best way to go, especially multipurpose items like Mason jars which make great drinking cups and vases. But if you can’t bring yourself to do any dishes, invest in biodegradable or compostable plates. After your guests leave you can simply toss them in your compost heap. Worldcentric offers a great array of everything from cutlery to trash bags, and they donate a quarter of their profits to grass roots social and environmental organizations.
When it comes to choosing meats to grill, remember to keep in mind the carbon footprint of your diet. Processing meats creates emissions, but not all proteins stack up the same. Red meats like lamb and beef release more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, so consider chicken or turkey burgers.
New technologies are emerging in order to make the act of grilling itself less harmful for the environment. The gas vs. charcoal vs. electric grill debate is a complicated one. Gas uses non-renewable fuels, charcoal emits double the carbon dioxide of gas, and electric can have the highest greenhouse gas emissions of all if the energy that powers your house isn’t green. New recyclable items like the FlameDisk use ethanol to heat and cook food, and they eliminate the time that used to be spent waiting for grills to heat up.
Enjoy your Labor Day!