Five tips to avoid single-use plastic at your summer cookout

Summertime is just around the corner, and while bringing family and friends together to enjoy the sunshine, eating burgers, dogs and veggies fresh off the grill can be a lot of fun, cleaning up lots of plastic waste at the end of the night just isn't.

Beyond plastic


vgajic via | TPIN

Here are five tips for how to cut back on plastic at your cookout:

1. Choose reusable serveware

Rather than rely on single-use plastic plates, cups and utensils, opt for reusable alternatives instead. The most environmentally friendly plate, glass or fork is the one you already own — and if you don’t have enough on hand for the whole party, make it a BYO BBQ and encourage your friends and family to bring their own from home!

2. Ditch the single-use straws

Plastic straws are one of the most common forms of plastic waste found in our oceans. You can avoid contributing to this problem by providing your guests with reusable or biodegradable straws. Consider offering paper, bamboo or stainless steel straws as a sustainable alternative — or, simply skip the straws altogether.

3. Say no to plastic bottles

Plastic bottles are another major source of plastic waste, and fortunately, it’s easy to find an alternative. Instead of purchasing individual plastic bottles, opt for beverages that come in aluminum cans or glass bottles. You can also offer pitchers of water, homemade lemonade or other refreshing drinks in large, reusable dispensers, and provide your guests with a designated area for refilling their reusable water bottles.

4. Choose eco-friendly decorations

Store displays are full of disposable plastic decorations for July 4th and other summer fun. But there are plenty of plastic-free alternatives, perhaps even right in your own backyard. Consider using cloth tablecloths or picnic blankets you already have on hand and natural materials such as flowers, leaves or branches to make centerpieces.

5. Have a plan for waste management

Set up clearly labeled trash, recycling and composting bins to help your guests dispose of their waste correctly. By doing so, you can minimize your barbecue’s environmental impact by ensuring cans and bottles get recycled and food and paper waste can be composted.

By following these five tips at your summer barbecue, you can significantly reduce plastic waste and inspire others to adopt eco-friendly practices. 


Celeste Meiffren-Swango

State Director, Environment Oregon

As director of Environment Oregon, Celeste develops and runs campaigns to win real results for Oregon's environment. She has worked on issues ranging from preventing plastic pollution, stopping global warming, defending clean water, and protecting our beautiful places. Celeste's organizing has helped to reduce kids' exposure to lead in drinking water at childcare facilities in Oregon, encourage transportation electrification, ban single-use plastic grocery bags, defend our bedrock environmental laws and more. She is also the author of the children's book, Myrtle the Turtle, empowering kids to prevent plastic pollution. Celeste lives in Portland, Ore., with her husband and two daughters, where they frequently enjoy the bounty of Oregon's natural beauty.

Janet Domenitz

Executive Director, MASSPIRG

Janet has been the executive director of MASSPIRG since 1990 and directs programs on consumer protection, zero waste, health and safety, public transportation, and voter participation. Janet has co-founded or led coalitions, including Earth Day Greater Boston, Campaign to Update the Bottle Bill and the Election Modernization Coalition. On behalf of MASSPIRG, Janet was one of the founding members of Transportation for Massachusetts (T4MA), a statewide coalition of organizations advocating investment in mass transit to curb climate change, improve public health and address equity. Janet serves as Chair of the Board of Directors for the Consumer Federation of America and serves on the Common Cause Massachusetts executive committee, Alliance for a Healthy Tomorrow board of directors, and Department of Environmental Protection Solid Waste Advisory Committee. For her work, Janet has received Common Cause’s John Gardner Award and Salem State University’s Friend of the Earth Award. Janet lives in Cambridge, Massachusetts, with her husband and two sons, and every Wednesday morning she slow-runs the steps at Harvard Stadium with the November Project.