Tips for a Zero-Waste Cookout

May 21, 2024 | Published by Julie Buchanan

cartoon cheeseburgers float on a bright blue background

Summer, summer, summertime. Time to sit back and unwind.

What’s a better way to unwind than a summer cookout?

We know: A cookout with less waste. There’s less to clean up! Plus, there’s less cost in the long run.

Here are some ways you can have a zero-waste cookout:

Give guests a heads up.

  • In your invitation, tell guests upfront you’re striving for a zero- or low-waste cookout. Encourage them to bring their own refillable cups. If it’s a potluck, ask that they bring dishes in reusable trays or containers.

Avoid food waste.

  • A sure-fire way to avoid food waste is to prevent it from occurring. Plan to use some ingredients you already have on hand (we’re looking at you, giant bag of rice in the pantry). Also, will guests eat what you’re cooking? Be mindful of food allergies, restrictions and tastes.
  • Have a stash of reusable to-go containers so guests can take leftovers home.
  • Compost food scraps.

Skip single-use plastics and foam.

  • Delete disposables from your shopping list.
  • You don’t need to invest in fancy partyware. Your everyday dishes and utensils are perfect. Plus, they’ll give the appearance that you’re a classy host.
  • If you’re a backyard composter, beware of items advertised as compostable. These often are made to break down in industrial composting facilities only.
  • Opt for a reusable table covering instead of disposable.

Green your beverages.

  • Make a large batch of lemonade or iced tea to serve from a pitcher or dispenser. This is where refillable cups will come in handy (and we don’t mean red plastic cups).
  • If you opt for store-bought beverages, remember that aluminum cans and glass bottles are endlessly recyclable.
  • Skip single-use plastic straws.

Make recycling accessible.

  • Give your guests easy access to a recycling bin. For those that aren’t avid recyclers, let them know it’s for cans and bottles.

Now, who’s ready to unwind?

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