This Labor Day, think green and have an eco-correct cookout. How? It’s easy —
Start with a visit to your local farmer’s market for fresh local fruits and vegetables so abundant this time of year. Make sure to include delicious and nutritious vine ripened tomatoes and watermelon to your meal – they contain lycopene, a powerful antioxidant, which may also help ward off sunburn! If possible, serve organic meat, pork and poultry.
A charcoal chimney is an easy way to start your grill and much safer than lighter fluid if you don’t have a gas grill. Make sure you use natural, hardwood charcoal instead of the conventional briquettes. Fill at least half your grill with produce. Grilled vegetables are not only a healthy and low calorie, but also don’t produce the carcinogens that can form on grilled meats. When grilling meat, always cook over a low-to-medium flame and avoid over-charring. Flare-ups and smoking oil create carcinogens. Marinate or baste with oil, honey or a barbeque sauce to provide a barrier and help prevent charring.
I prefer reusable dinner plates and utensils, but if you are having a crowd it is easier to use disposable. Make sure they are biocompostable or made from recycled plastic. Preserve Products makes plates, utensils and storage containers that are made in the US from 100% BPA-free recycled plastic and are dishwasher safe. (They also make great toothbrushes and razors made from recycled yogurt cups.) Whole Foods carries the line, but you can also order them fromPreserveProducts.com. Cloth napkins are a nice touch, but if you prefer disposable, you can easily find them made from recycled or tree-free paper at most supermarkets.
Chemical free sunscreen and insect repellants are a much healthier alternative than conventional products. Badger makes effective, non-toxic repellants and sunscreens. Visit safecosmetics.org to check the toxicity of your brand.
Plan activities to get your guests moving and not eating and drinking so much. If your cookout is near the water, take advantage of the end of summer for swimming, paddleboarding and kayaking. If not, set up a volleyball/badminton net and get the teens involved in a tournament. Croquet appeals to all ages and corn hole is a fun new rage! A nature walk or an outside scavenger hunt is a great way to get the kids interested in the outdoors.
And, of course don’t forget to compost food waste and recycle cans, bottles and other recyclable items!
Whatever you do to honor the end of summer, make sure you are good to the earth. Remember, what is good for the earth is good for you and what is good for you is good for the earth. Have fun and happy Labor Day!
For more green living tips, visit greenwithbetsy.com.