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The sun is shining, the birds are singing, it's the weekend, so you have some spare time on your hands. What do you do? Well many of us will fire up the barbecue and invite our friends round for burnt sausages and cheeseburgers. The first barbecues were the invention of the Taino Indians of Haiti, who dried their meat on raised frames of sticks over the fire. Spanish explorers translated the Taino word as barbacoa, and in due course English settlers along the Atlantic coast had their own barbecues. The word barbecue has many names around the world - most of them are, to a great extent, universally recognisable but some others a bit more obscure such as "braai" (SA). The more common terms include: barbeque, Bar-B-Cue, Bar-B-Q, BBQ, barbicue, barbie, barbique, Cue and Q. (Source: barbecue-online.co.uk)

But what are the environmental impacts of having a BBQ?

Well many do argue that gas is the greener option for the BBQ in terms of air pollution. When burned, charcoal creates black smoke, which adds to air pollution, and some self-lighting charcoal has been soaked in chemicals. It is believed that most of the 40,000 tonnes of barbecued charcoal used every year in the UK comes from unsustainable sources. (Source: barbecue-online.co.uk). It isn't just the fuel to keep the BBQ going that has an impact on the environment. BBQ's are well known for creating a lot of waste. From paper plates to plastic cups, the rubbish soon mounts up.
There are some steps you can take to make your BBQ a bit more eco friendly:

* If you do use charcoal (many feel that the taste is much better and traditional than cooking with gas) buy it locally, and make sure it has the FSC logo.

* Avoid lighter fuel and charcoal that has already been pre soaked in chemicals.

* Use reusable plates and cloth napkins to reduce waste. If you really need paper plates then pop them in your compost bin once finished with.

*Buy your food locally where possible. The local butchers usually have the best tasting organic sausages anyway!

* If you do need to make a trip to the supermarket then buy food in bulk to save on packaging. And take your Bag for Life with you!

* After the BBQ take all bottles to the bottle bank to be recycled.

* If you have garden furniture, make sure it you buy it locally, or again make sure the FSC logo is there.

* Garden heaters aren't really needed when we all own jumpers and cardigans. If it gets a bit nippy, just wrap up! Garden heaters just waste energy.

Further Information

Sidney Stevens in America has written about the P's and Q's of BBQ, a guide to guilt-free grilling:

Check out an alternative to charcoal with cocoanut shell charcoal here:

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