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Wednesday, 3 October 2012

Barbecues and outdoor heaters: greener choices

Eating and drinking outdoors is hugely popular in the UK – Britons enjoyed some 100 million barbecues in 2005 alone. There are ways you can protect the environment while you enjoy entertaining outside. Try choosing charcoal made from sustainably produced wood and avoiding outdoor heaters.

Pull on a pullover

Wrapping up warm or going indoors when you get chilly is greener than using an outdoor heater. This is because heaters, which are powered by gas or electricity, use a lot of energy, contributing to climate change. The average patio heater emits about the same amount of carbon dioxide in four hours as the average car emits in a day.

Choose your charcoal carefully

Only a small proportion of the charcoal used for barbecues is made in the UK. Charcoal may be imported from as far as 12,000 miles away, and transporting it results in considerable carbon emissions.

Buying charcoal from sustainably managed forests helps prevent deforestation and illegal logging. Look for charcoal with a label proving it is made from sustainable wood. You can find both these labels on sustainable charcoal in high street shops:

  • Forest Stewardship Council (FSC)
  • Programme for the Endorsement of Forest Certification schemes (PEFC)

Make your own barbecue

Building your own barbecue is a quick and inexpensive task. All you need is some bricks and a metal grill rack. You could use recycled bricks or concrete slabs, and the grill rack from an oven. Stack the bricks or slabs on a fire-resistant surface (earth or concrete), until the sides are tall enough to light a fire underneath. Place a metal grill on top of the bricks, and it is ready to use.

Make your own firelighters

Commercial firelighters contain chemicals which can affect the taste of your food, and harm the environment. Try using crumpled up newspaper, or any waste paper to start your barbecue. This will save money and be kinder to the environment.

Avoid waste

Things you can do:

  • consider using ordinary plates, knives and forks at your barbecues instead of disposables
  • consider borrowing or buying a barbecue you can use again rather than a disposable one
  • recycle all the bottles, cans, paper napkins and packaging
  • ash from lumpwood charcoal is good for neutralising acid soil, so try using it in the garden instead of throwing it away

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