Do Your Part: Consider environment before firing up grill

Summer is here and the grillin’ is easy – and energy-efficient.

Whether you’re an expert grill master or just beginning to barbecue, here are five ways you can do your part to green up your grilling routine.

Pick a greener grill: When it comes to the environment, there’s a clear winner between gas grills and charcoal ones.

Natural gas or propane-powered grills use less energy and are the better choice when it’s time to buy a new grill.

They also produce fewer pollutants than burning charcoal. Gas grills heat up faster and don’t produce any soot – plus there aren’t any ashes to dispose of after grilling.

Choose better charcoal: That said, if you already have a charcoal grill that’s working well, keep it. Why send it to the dump if you don’t have to?

And there are ways to make it greener. It all starts with shopping for the right kind of charcoal. Avoid self-starting formulas and look for additive-free or all-natural lump charcoal. It won’t release the toxic additives that regular charcoal does.

Lose the lighter fluid: Lighter fluid can also release toxins. A better choice is using a chimney starter. You can find one for less than $10 at most home improvement stores and it will get your coals hot in just a matter of minutes with no toxic fumes.

Focus on the food: Along with all the attention to the type of grill you have, don’t forget about the food.

When shopping for beef or chicken, organic choices are healthiest. You can spot them because of the USDA Organic label. This label verifies that the animals were given only organic feed and were not injected with growth hormones or antibiotics.

Another eco-friendly option is local meats, which keeps money in your community and cuts down on the miles your food travels to get to your table.

For seafood lovers, there are sustainable seafood guides that tell you which seafood is best to buy and which to avoid.

And if fresh vegetables are on the menu, visit farmer’s markets for local crops and avoid the so-called “dirty dozen” fruits and veggies by buying organic options.

(You can find more information on sustainable seafood guides and pesticide-free produce resources at DoYourPart.com/Columns.)

Clean without toxic chemicals: After you’re done cooking, a baking soda and water paste is an all-natural alternative that works just as well without any potentially dangerous chemicals.

During these warm summer months, do your part when you fire up the grill. It’s a tasty option that gives your energy hog of an oven the night off, and you won’t be left to eat your meal in a hot house.

Terri Bennett is a veteran TV meteorologist, syndicated columnist and host of DoYourPart.com, where you can find everyday green living ideas that are better for you and the planet.

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