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Zero Waste BBQ

Zero Waste BBQ

Zero Waste BBQ

Summer means longer days, warmer weather, and spending more time outside. For San Diegans, this leads to beach days, barbecues and other outdoor events! It can also lead to a lot of waste – every summer, I Love A Clean San Diego collects thousands of pounds of litter from our local beaches. For your gatherings this this season, consider going zero waste! I Love A Clean San Diego wants to help you host a low waste barbecue so you can spend less time worrying about trash, and more time focused on fun!

Ditch the Disposables

When there are large groups involved, it can be easy to reach for paper plates and plastic cutlery. However, one plastic water bottle requires 1.85 gallons of water to make. When we throw single use items away, we’re throwing away our natural resources as well. It’s best for the environment to use reusable tableware instead. If you’re concerned about being left with a ton of dishes at the end of the night, ask your guests to BYOP – bring your own plate! Let everyone know you are going for a plastic-free event, and people will be excited to help out. Try cloth napkins instead of paper, or glasses and mugs instead of paper cups. You can even find metal skewers for roasting marshmallows, rather than disposable ones.

Here in San Diego, we are lucky to have so many breweries and wineries close by. Try filling a few growlers instead of opting for bottles and cans, and look for wineries that will refill or reuse their wine bottles.

Forgo Food Waste

In the United States, the average person throws about 3.5 pounds of wasted food per week. In planning your menu for your summer BBQ, look for recipes that have ingredients you can buy in bulk. Reducing packaging during your grocery trip can cut down on your overall waste from the event. You can also do your best to use every part of the ingredient – instead of throwing away your potato peels, bake them into chips!

Try out the recipes below for your next event.

For each, you can use up what you have, or easily find ingredients in bulk or recyclable packaging.

Other ideas include…

  • Making sangria or flavored water with leftover fruit
  • Roasting any wilting veggies on the grill
  • Using the last of that loaf of bread in bread pudding

Set it Up for Success

A key component to any zero waste event is making sure your guests know where and how to dispose of things at the end of the night. Make sure it’s clear which bin is for recycling, where they can put compost, and what they should do with anything that might need to go in the trash. Clearly labelling your bins ensures your guests feel confident enough to sort their waste on their own.

Some quick disposal tips…

  • Glass, metal, paper, and plastic containers can all be recycled
  • Food soiled paper and food scraps from produce can be composted
  • Bottle caps are too small to go into the recycling on their own. Collect these throughout the night and place them in an empty metal can to be recycled.

We know it can be hard to make these adjustments in the whirlwind of party planning but try a few small adjustments and see how easily habits can change. The best part is you might inspire friends and family to think differently about their waste habits as well! Let us know how your zero waste barbecue goes by tagging us on Facebook, Instagram or Twitter @ILoveACleanSD!

Pick up more tips and knowledge by attending our Celebrate Sustainably: Summer Fun webinar on July 28th! Register here. For more information on how to adopt a waste-free lifestyle visit For more information about our educational programs, contact