5 Tips for Reducing Waste During Summer Cookouts

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Summer in Tennessee is the perfect time for outdoor cookouts. It’s an opportunity to gather with friends and family and enjoy delicious food, great company and beautiful weather. However, these celebrations often come with increased waste from single-use materials. To help you host a more eco-friendly cookout, we put together five tips that promote sustainability and reduce waste for any summer BBQ.

  1. Opt for Reusable Alternatives

Single-use items like plastic plates, straws, and table covers are convenient but have a significant environmental impact. Instead of disposable plates, cups and straws, choose reusable alternatives made of melamine or stainless steel. Both options are sturdy and eco-friendly and can be washed and used for future gatherings. And swap out disposable plastic tablecloths for reusable linen or cloth covers. You can wash and reuse them, adding a touch of elegance to your setup.

  1. Choose Handheld Foods to Reduce Cutlery

Single-use cutlery contributes significantly to waste at cookouts. To help reduce this additional litter, you can create a menu with handheld foods, eliminating the need for utensils. Some great options include burgers, hot hogs, and chicken wings. These classic cookout staples are perfect for eating with your hands. They are easy to prepare and serve, and they reduce the need for disposable cutlery and help simplify your cleanup process, making your cookout more enjoyable for everyone. And if you do use cutlery, make sure to opt for reusable serving spoons and forks. For guests, provide reusable, bamboo or compostable cutlery options.

  1. Set Up a Refill Station

Another major source of waste at outdoor gatherings is single-use cups. To avoid this waste pile-up, opt for reusable cups and a refillable beverage area. This setup allows guests to refill their cups as needed, reducing the need for extra trash. Encourage guests to use reusable cups and label them with their names to avoid mix-ups. Add some fun by creating large batches of themed drinks, like lemonade, iced tea or infused water. Serving these in beverage dispensers cuts down on plastic waste and adds a festive touch to your drink station.

  1. Reduce Food Waste

Food waste can be problematic at cookouts, too. According to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, food is the single largest category of material placed in municipal landfills in the United States. To help reduce that burden on landfills, plan your food quantities carefully. Ask guests to RSVP to get a more accurate headcount so you prepare the right amount of food. Best of all, this will save you money too!

You can also reduce the amount of food that makes it to the trash by planning for leftovers. Encourage guests to take home extra food or freeze leftovers for future meals. Alternatively, consider donating surplus food to local food pantries.

  1.  Recycle And Compost When You Can

We know you’re going to end up with a small amount of waste, even if you follow all the tips, but proper waste disposal is crucial for reducing your cookout’s environmental impact. A great way to reduce landfill litter is to set up designated recycling and composting stations if your city offers those services.

For recycling, clearly label bins for cans, bottles, and cardboard. Be sure to let your guests know what can and cannot be recycled. Setting up a compost bin for food scraps and biodegradable items is another great way to reduce what ends up in the landfill. Plus, Composting reduces waste and creates valuable compost for your garden.

By making small changes and opting for reusable items, planning food quantities wisely, and setting up recycling and compost stations, you are helping to do your part to reduce waste and keep litter off our roadways and out of our waterways. Incorporating these tips into your next cookout and sharing them with your friends and family will positively impact your community and the environment. Together, we can all contribute to responsible waste management and ensure that Tennessee remains beautiful for future generations.



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