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10 Ways to Throw a Greener BBQ This Summer

Make your picnic or BBQ a greener affair with these ingenious products for an eco-friendly outdoor gathering.

Every editorial product is independently selected, though we may be compensated or receive an affiliate commission if you buy something through our links. Ratings and prices are accurate and items are in stock as of time of publication.

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Picnic Paper Plates WasteDennis Galante/Getty Images

Reducing Picnic Waste

At the beach, the park or your backyard, barbecues and picnics are a great way to celebrate summer. But they also generate a lot of trash, particularly single-use plastics that wind up in landfills or, worse, in oceans and waterways.

So while you’re enjoying the great outdoors, why not give Mother Nature a break by packing your picnic hamper with these reusable and recyclable items to create a low/no waste barbecue? Take a look at our suggestions for products to throw a greener barbecue.

Remember that with compostables, check the label for the length of the break-down time. Some items might be better off in your organic recycling bin than your home compost pile.

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Best Real Picnic Basket

If you really want to reduce waste, plan your picnic or barbecue the old-fashioned way, with this authentic wicker picnic basket stocked with plates, cutlery, napkins and wine glasses. They even throw in a picnic blanket and salt and pepper shakers. And all the tableware is dishwasher-safe.

Or, if you’re hiking to your destination, leave no trace with this handy picnic backpack. It has everything you need for a picnic for four — we love the insulated wine bottle pouch!

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Best Compostable Plates

Fortunately for the planet, there are more and more alternatives to single-use plastic, including these compostable dinner plates from Repurpose. Made from eucalyptus, sugarcane pulp and wood, these plates are intended for one-time use but can be hand-washed and used again.

They may take a long time to break down in a home composter, so it’s best to take them to a composting facility. Failing that, they’ll break down naturally in a landfill. Best of all, they’ll leave no microplastics in their wake.

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Best Compostable Cutlery

Most compostable cutlery, plates and cups can’t be tossed into your backyard compost bin. That’s also true with this 380-piece cutlery set from EcoVita.

Made from corn — yes, corn! — these utensils are intended for a community composting center. When that’s not available, this 100 percent petroleum-free cutlery will break down in a landfill. Users give them high ratings for durability, and they’re heat-resistant.

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Best Recyclable Cups

Remember those Ball Mason jars your grandma used for making jelly? That same company now offers innovative, recyclable aluminum cups, perfect for cold drinks on a hot day.

Aluminum is one of the most easily recycled products in circulation, and these 20-ounce cups contain 75 percent recycled aluminum. Although they’re intended for single use, they can be hand-washed and reused several times before being recycled.

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Best Compostable Serving Trays

Made from palm leaves, these compostable serving trays are attractive, sturdy and practical. They look like bamboo but are an even greener alternative. They’re made from Areca palm leaves that have already fallen, eliminating the need to cut down trees.

These are a great alternative to plastic. While they’re designed for single-use, the manufacturer says you can hand wash them and use again.

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Best Compostable Picnic Table Cover

Made from plant-based materials, including corn starch, these compostable picnic tablecloths from Earth’s Natural Alternative are available in four colors and fit a picnic table up to eight feet long. And here’s a pleasant surprise — these tablecloths, sold in a two-pack, can be composted in your home composting bin.

The company advises you store them in a cool, dry place, away from animals like mice who may want to snack on them. They have a shelf-life of about nine months.

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Best Recyclable Trash Bag

Bag up your organic and compostable picnic refuse in these compostable kitchen waste bags from Repurpose. Even if community composting isn’t available where you live, you can rest easy knowing these plastic-free bags will break down quickly in a landfill.

Although they’re not recommended for home composting bins, some Repurpose web site reviewers report they can be composted at home. Use them for outdoor gatherings or everyday household trash.

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Best Hot and Cold Picnic Tote

We love this roomy insulated tote for carrying prepared foods to a picnic. Two sections allow you to transport hot and cold foods simultaneously, and the reinforced bottom is sturdy enough to hold a casserole dish. A well-balanced handle on top ensures the tote won’t tip over, avoiding a sloshy mess.

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Best “Green” Fire Starter

For the safety of you and your food and the health of the environment, it makes sense to buy an eco-friendly fire starter. These Fatwood sticks made of natural, organic food-safe resins. The wood comes from stumps of non-endangered trees; no live trees were felled to make the product.

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Best Reusable Water Bottles

Ban bottled water from your next outdoor gathering by filling these reusable, collapsible water bags, made from BPA-free plastic. Prior to a hot day outdoors, pop filled bags in the freezer so that you have icy-cold water to serve picnic-goers. Once they’re empty, they can be folded away and stowed for the trip home. And if you want to use one of these 2.6 gallon bags for frozen daiquiris or frosé, go for it!

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