Monday, 7 May 2012

#CTWW Challenge - 2nd May 2012 - Barbecues

It's the Bank Holiday weekend, temperatures are back to single digits (celsius) and there is a cold drizzle. Ideal conditions to think about this weeks Change the World Wednesday challenge:

This week, consider Eco-friendly Grilling/BBQing. Please share all your ideas for cooking outside. Here's a hint ... Charcoal Briquettes
are not necessarily Eco-friendly. Need another hint to get going? Check out this POST.

We don't tend to use the barbecue often: our weather is too unpredictable to plan ahead for them so they are rare spur of the moment occasions. On one memorable occasion when we did plan a bbq, our guests took shelter indoors while I cooked under an umbrella. 

As they don't feature large in our lives, I hadn't given much thought to the environmental impact of bbqs. I figured that, since charcoal is made from wood that it is probably carbon neutral if it comes from sustainable sources, although probably not very efficient. I had also read that the ashes could be added to the compost heap.  However these assumptions were proven wrong when I read up for this challenge.

I came across an article in Science Daily (link here) which looks at climate related emissions from propane gas compared with charcoal and it also highlights that most charcoal used in the UK is imported from areas in Africa where the first cover had been depleted.

Charcoal briquettes also have added ingredients which make them unsuitable for use in the compost heap put garden. These additives may include borax or starch to bind the charcoal, nitrates to aid ignition or sometimes anthracite to improve performance of the briquettes.

Traditional lump wood charcoal tends not to have the additives but it is more likely to be made from tropical hardwoods which may not be sustainably harvested.

Is this the end for summer barbecues then? Or should we replace our barbecue with a gas one?

As we use the bbq so infrequently, it will take a considerable time to repay the embodied energy of a new gas bbq with savings from each use. And a gas bbq does not satisfy that primal urge to create fire! It looks like the answer for us, if we get a summer, lies in sustainably sourced lump wood charcoal. Or cooking indoors a normal but eating outside.

We can't be good all of the time.

Finally, if you haven't tried barbecued pineapple, give it a go: take a whole pineapple, cut in to quarters lengthwise then grill. Delicious.

Related post:

Elsevier (2009, May 12). Grilling With Charcoal Less Climate-friendly Than Grilling With Propane, Study Finds. ScienceDaily. Retrieved May 7, 2012, from

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for all of this information ... I learned a lot! We used to grill over briquettes until I investigated them and found out how they really aren't Eco-friendly. We have a gas grill in our community for all to use so we grill veggies on that once in awhile. :-)