By Sierra Harden | Jul 18, 2016

Summer and barbeque season are in full swing. Especially in Seattle, the summer months often provide the best weather to grill and host a party outside. Parties can be a tremendous amount of work and details that increase sustainability are often overlooked or cast aside for ease. Here are eight easy tips to help green your summer party:

1. E-Media Invites

Paper invites are the way of the past. E-media invites are much greener and often provide automatic reminders to your guest. One option would be to use Facebook and create an event. There are also several websites where you can create invitations that look exactly like a paper invitation for free. Examples include PunchbowlEvite and Canva. These websites also have functions to turn your party into a potluck, saving you time and energy. 

2. Clear Signage

Help your guests be as green as possible when it comes to disposing of anything at your party. Don’t assume your guests know as much about properly disposing of materials as you. Make and display clear signs informing them of how to properly dispose of the items found at your party.

3. Reusable or Compostable Plates and Utensils

Using a dishwasher to clean your plates and utensils can use less water and energy than handwashing. However, if your party is quite large the idea of washing all those dishes can still be daunting. If this is the case, say no to Styrofoam or plastic - use biodegradable or compostable plates and cutlery.

4. Green Beverages

No party is complete without beverages. Consider pre-making large quantities of lemonade or ice tea to put out in pitchers for your guests. If you are planning on having adult beverages at your party, consider using and/or encouraging guests to bring growlers instead of single-use bottles or cans.

5. Local or Seasonal Veggies

When searching for the best complementary veggies to include on your shish kebabs or to just throw in a grilling basket, check your local supermarket for local veggies or find a nearby farmer's market. These veggies are likely to be the freshest and most sustainable as their travel time from farm to table is the shortest.

6. Consider Giving Meat The Boot

Consider non-meat grilling options when planning your bbq menu. Veggies such as eggplant or mushrooms are great substitutes. If you are looking to get more protein out of your bbq, consider a grilling cheeses such as halloumi. This cheese has a high melting temperature allowing it to be grilled without melting. Follow this link for some recipe suggestions.

7. The Main Actor…The Grill

To increase the effectiveness of your grill and decrease your grilling footprint, keep the lid closed as much as possible. This helps reduce the total energy used to cook your meal as well as creating a well-rounded heating environment which will cook your food thoroughly and evenly. If you are searching for a new grill, avoid charcoal grills they are the worst offenders. Natural gas grills emit less greenhouse gasses and are greener than propane or an electric grill. 

8. Dessert

Everyone loves dessert, especially guests at a party. If you made something that needs to be reheated before serving, instead of turning on the oven just place the dish inside the cooling bbq. The excess heat released as it cools down should be enough to reheat that delicious dessert.

For more ideas, see: Treehugger: How to Go Green