Charcoal grilling is less environmentally friendly than a gas barbecue. Charcoal briquettes contain coal dust and sodium nitrate and emit more carbon monoxide and soot than a gas grill.
Fortunately there are several things you can do to make charcoal grilling a little bit more eco-friendly:
- Use hardwood lump charcoal instead of briquettes. Lump charcoal still comes from a tree (using virgin wood) but you can find products that use wood from sustainably managed forests (like Whole Foods 365 Brand). Natural hardwood charcoal burns cleaner than briquettes.
- Start your fire with a chimney starter instead of lighter fluid. They are easy to use -- just crumble up newspaper in the bottom, put the lump charcoal in the top and light the paper. This method is better than lighter fluid, which contains VOCs and has an unpleasant smell.
- Cook leaner cuts of meat to avoid carcinogenic hydrocarbons from getting into your food. (This happens when the fat drips onto the coals.)