Environmental awareness in the summer


So far, the summer has not spoiled us with all too many nice days. One reason more to take advantage of the few sunny days and get the barbecue out. Just like every year, this subject gives rise to the typical question: what barbecue grill do you use to become a real professional barbecuer? Does anyone also ask themselves what impact our BBQ evenings have on the environment? We set off in search of answers.

Charcoal without additives

The DIN mark of conformity and the FSC certificate ensure transparency when you’re buying charcoal for the BBQ.

The sun’s rays soon entice most people into their garden, public green areas or to the lakes. Sitting round together and eating a few grilled sausages – just perfect! However, what most people don’t consider is that their frequent BBQs can have a negative impact on the environment. If you opt for a charcoal grill, everything starts with your choice of the right charcoal. For plastic, petroleum or other harmful substances can be contained in the charcoal. What do you have to watch out for? The DIN mark of conformity DIN EN 1860-2 guarantees that the product contains no toxic substances. You should also buy, if at all possible, charcoal from sustainable forest management and not from tropical forests. With 243,000 tonnes of charcoal imported into Germany, many a BBQ fan may well soon lose track – but the FSC certificate helps the consumer to choose sustainable BBQ charcoal. You can also do without chemical agents when lighting the BBQ because ecolighters impregnated with vegetable oil or wax do the job just as well.

Harmful smoke

A large amount of smoke during BBQing can damage your health if you choose the wrong kind of charcoal.

The ecological impact of your choice of charcoal is one thing. But you should also remember certain things while you are BBQing: when you use a charcoal grill, liquids such as fat or marinades dripping onto the hot coals cause a lot of smoke to develop. The harmful particles dissolved in the smoke can settle on the meat and end up being eaten. To avoid that, you should use a reusable drip tray or do without charcoal completely.

So is an electric barbecue better?

There is a widespread idea that electric barbecues use excessive amounts of electricity but if you work it out, it is simply not true. Generally this kind of grill uses about 2,000 to 2,500 watts of energy, as much as a hair dryer. If your grill is on for three hours, that’s 6 kilowatt hours, which, according to the Federal Environment Agency, is the equivalent of about 3,000 grams of CO2. By contrast, when you grill with charcoal, no more CO2 is released than the original timber previously absorbed. However, processing and transport can cause much more to be released if you do not choose the right charcoal. The electric barbecue also scores points as it is easier to use: you can get it going quickly, clean it easily and it doesn’t cause so much smoke, which makes grilling – particularly on the balcony – more pleasant.

And what about LPG?

Another alternative is the gas barbecue grill. If you also consider the production and transport of charcoal, this produces less CO2 than a charcoal grill. Quite apart from that, it is very easy to regulate the temperature of a gas grill. The flame heats up lava rock or metal bars on which the barbecue food can sizzle. This kind of grill also produces very little smoke as no liquids drip onto hot charcoal.

And what should land on the BBQ?

Once we’ve decided on the type of BBQ grill, the party can start. But what lands on our plates? According to a study, most of the ecological impact of a barbecue is caused by the production and transport of the barbecue food. The production of one kilo of beef leads to the release of 6.5 kilos of CO2. With pork and poultry it is 1.8 and 1.3 kilos. If you want to do something good for the environment and yourself, you can buy organic vegetables instead.

Enjoying with a clear conscience

types of grill
The favourite types of grill in order of ranking.

When it comes to BBQing, one thing is clear: it’s the barbecue flavour that counts. And that is also reflected in the popularity of the types of grill. Number one by a wide margin is the charcoal grill. By contrast, the electric grill takes the mid-field position and the gas grill brings up the rear. If we pay attention to a few things, such as the right charcoal and high-quality food, we can continue enjoying the smoky taste with a clear conscience and don’t have to do without anything. If we buy locally produced food for our barbecues, we can reduce the high CO2 emissions a little through the short transport distances. After all, we all want to relax and enjoy the summer without a bad conscience, don’t we?