During the summer months, there’s nothing better than gathering in the backyard with a group of friends and firing up the grill. And as you sip a cold drink and sample your neighbor’s famous pasta salad, you can still keep your backyard BBQ as green as possible. It’s easy to turn to disposable paper plates and plastic utensils for a fast cleanup, but that extra bag of trash is destined for the already overcrowded landfill.
Next time you plan an outdoor meal, get a little quirky with eco-friendly cooking and serving through one of these tips:
Serve Finger-Food Appetizers
There’s no need for little paper plates at the start of the meal when you can offer snacks that double as serving utensils. For example, I like to cut mini sweet peppers in half and fill each veggie with a scoop of creamy spinach dip. Guests can pop them in their mouths without the need for a serving spoon. Or, buy tortilla chips shaped like cups and add small spoonfuls of your famous homemade salsa. You’ll never have to worry about double-dipping, spreading germs, or using disposable appetizer plates.
Use Fancy Plates
I know I’m not alone in picking up uncommon, colorful plates and platters at thrift stores and rummage sales. Put your eclectic mix of serve wear to use at your next backyard BBQ. The plates become conversation pieces, and are washable and sturdy enough to hold even the heaviest rack of ribs or juicy fruit salad without leaking or bending. If I have extra plates, I’ll even see guests out with leftovers on them to dispel the myth that all take-home items need to be packaged in single-use plastic containers.
Set up Water Coolers
Once I attended a cookie exchange party where the hostess served fruit-infused water from a large glass carafe. It was a pretty centerpiece and offered a healthy beverage while eliminating tables cluttered with empty water bottles. For your next cookout, try setting up a fill-up station with water infused with slices of refreshing citrus (oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit) or a flavorful blend of cucumber and mint. Your guests will love the unique flavors as they fill upcycled glass Mason jars with the drinks.
Make Cloth Napkins
If you have a little spare time and the itch to make something creative, turn fabric scraps into washable, reusable cloth napkins for the party. They absorb more and make your get-together look a bit more elegant (especially for festive events like a baby shower or anniversary party). Besides, they’re a nice change of pace but still effective, which is a win-win. If you have an abundance of extra fabric, make a tablecloth too!
How do you like to make your outdoor meals more environmentally friendly? Share your tips and ideas on Twitter.
Image source: Flickr
This article was brought to you by Tom’s of Maine. The views and opinions expressed by the author do not reflect the position of Tom’s of Maine.