In Joro’s “Small step, Big impact” series, we post ideas that respond to questions we’re getting from our users, highlighting achievable changes that can add up to big impact for our planet.

This summer, fire up the grill without overheating the planet. 

75% of Americans own an outdoor grill and the majority plan to use it on July fourth, the most popular grilling day in the U.S. While red meat is still the most popular grilling item, there are an exciting set of mouth-watering alternatives that are better for your health and the planet’s. 

Read on for tips that will help you impress your friends with a BBQ like they’ve never seen.

Invest in a Gas Grill

Hosting a pro-planet barbeque begins with how you grill your food. Charcoal grills emit nearly 3 times the CO2e (carbon dioxide equivalent) a gas grill emits, about 6.7kg C02e per session compared to 2.3kg CO2e. By switching from charcoal to gas, you can save 4.4kg CO2e per event, or about as much emissions as it would take to drive 11 miles. Taking the full summer into account, you could save 66kg CO2e or the equivalent of driving 165 miles.

Grilling on a gas grill has other benefits, too. Generally you can cook faster, since it takes less time for the grill to warm up, and you can turn the grill on and off, reducing the amount of energy and money you spend and giving you the flexibility to cook in batches for a large group.

Skip the meat, Keep the burger

No doubt you’ve heard there are a number of meatless meat options to experiment with this summer. The Beyond Meat Burger is available at Target and  Whole Foods. Pro tip: Rub the burger with garlic before grilling, throw some onions, spinach and peppers on the grill alongside it, and assemble your burger with a slice of cheddar and ketchup or mayo. You’ll find your friends and family coming back for seconds. The Beyond Meat Sausage is also a great alternative and only takes six minutes on the grill

Besides trying out innovative meat sources, members of our team are known for finding ways to make vegetarian options even tastier. One of our favorite burger alternatives is the black bean burger. Turn up the heat with this allrecipes.com Blackbean Burger by adding a little more red pepper than the recipe calls for – but you can add your favorite ingredients to make this recipe your own.

Go ham on in-season summer vegetables

As spring turns ot summer, there are an  abundance of hearty vegetables to satisfy you and your guests. Our top four grill vegetables, eggplant, zucchini, corn, and sweet potatoes, will make you look like a true grill master by just adding a bit of olive oil and cajun spice or salt. Spice up your sweet corn with salt, chili powder, and lime for an extra kick. 

Play up your simple sides to make them go further. Cool off with a watermelon-cucumber or strawberry and mixed greens salad. Both recipes are delicious, refreshing, and hydrating.

Try something different

Incorporate unexpected foods to surprise your guests. While tofu isn’t typical for a summer cookout, it takes on the flavor of whatever spice you choose and creates a multitude of options for you and your friends. Cajun-spiced, teriyaki, and honey grilled tofu are three recipes we’re testing this weekend. 

Skipping soy? Grill plantains and sweeten them with a brown sugar glaze. Tandoori Paneer Tikka is a third option if you are feeling adventurous and up for a challenge.

Be mindful of waste

Individual consumers drive 40% of food waste in the U.S. each year, which is approximately $64 million. Yikes! The good news is, there is more than one way to reduce waste. A first step is to request RSVPs for your party. Getting an accurate count of guests attending helps you plan accordingly and ensures you don’t overshoot and waste food and money.

Second, invite guests to bring a dish. This decreases your prep work and ensures guests have a way to take leftover food home, reducing food waste overall. Compost the food you cannot save like scraps or vegetables that spent too long on the grill. 

Finally, opt for reusable dishes. While it’s more convenient to throw away paper or plastic plates and cutlery, reusable dishes add style while being more sustainable and cost-effective.

Average American Barbeque for four 

Total: ~ 64 kg CO2e

Charcoal Grill 6.7kgs

  1. Beef Burgers (4 kg)
  2. Hot dogs (6 kg)
  3. Sweet Corn (~1 kg)
  4. Strawberry and Greens Salad (.150 kg + ~1 )
  5. Guacamole and chips (.8g/avocado*4 = 3.2 kg)
  6. Beer (~2 kg)
  7. Watermelon (~1kg)
  8. Paper Plates and Plastic Cutlery

Pro-planet Barbeque for four

Total:  ~ 25 kg CO2e

Gas Grill 2.3 kgs

  1. Beyond Meat Burger (~1 kg)
  2. Grilled Eggplant (~1 kg)
  3. Sweet Corn (~1kg)
  4. Strawberry and Greens Salad (.150 kg + ~1 )
  5. Mockamole and chips (.125kg/bunch local asparagus*6 = .75 kg)
  6. Beer (Assuming 2/person) (~2 kg)
  7. Watermelon (~1 kg)
  8. Reusable or Compostable Plates and Cutlery

Impact of your pro-planet barbeque

Our small steps adds up to big impact. Saving 39 kgs of CO2e is like opting out of driving 95 miles. If you choose to make every grilling session a pro-planet one over the course of the summer, that would be like planting 27 trees. Who knew going green and hosting a pro-planet barbeque would be so tasty?

*Estimations from Mike Berners-Lee’s How Bad Are Bananas