How to Have an Eco Friendly BBQ

HAPPY SUMMER EVERYONE! It’s basically official right? Summer solstice is right around the corner. Not that it has to be summer time to have a cookout, if you’re reading this for a family cookout in November, more power to you!

But, since I’m publishing this in the summer and I’m going to assume you’re reading it during the summer… we’re just going to continue with a SUMMER theme.

the ultimate guide to a zero waste summer BBQ from #zerowaste #ecofriendly #BBQ #cookout #summer #entertaining

I love summer. It’s my favorite season. I have SO much energy in the summer. I’m like the energizer bunny. When the sun comes out early in the morning I’m itching to start my day - oh and those late summer evenings… there’s nothing better.

Man, I just want to get a snow cone right now. Also, something I’ve noticed is there aren’t any snow cone mobiles in California!

We had snow cone mobiles everywhere in Arkansas and I miss them. I miss you Hawaiian Ice!

I digress, this post isn’t about how much I love summer, warm weather, and snow cones… It’s about throwing the most eco-friendly, zero waste cookout EVER.

And, I’ve got you covered, I’ve thrown many a zero waste BBQ in my day. In fact, since Justin and I got married at city hall we threw a BIG backyard BBQ to celebrate with all of our friends and family and it was an absolute blast.

1. borrow:

If you need more tables, chairs, games, cups, plates etc. Instead of running out to get more, I urge you to ask your guests if they have any you can BORROW.

I promise, they will be more than happy to lend them and this will save you a ton of money! It’s also way more eco-friendly to use materials that already exist in the waste stream than it is to buy brand new.

the ultimate guide to a zero waste summer BBQ from #zerowaste #ecofriendly #BBQ #cookout #summer #entertaining

2. choose reusables:

A key area of waste at BBQs is all of the disposables. People tend to lean into the disposable plates or red solo cups at parties, but I would love for you to switch to reusable items! 

Now, we've talked about my mom and her meticulous party planning, yeah? 

Since it isn't the safest thing to have kids by the pool with a bunch of breakable plates and glasses, growing up we had a set of BBQ plates which were all plastic. 

They were reusable and made of melamine. We also had reusable plastic cups of course if you'd rather avoid even reusable plastic they make a stainless steel pint cups and plates

Now, I know what you’re thinking, isn’t that going to be A LOT of dishes?

Yes, but I threw a backyard bash with 60 people in attendance without a dishwasher. Just when my friends asked if they could do something to help, instead of turning them down, I asked if they’d help wash a few dishes. They were more than happy to do that!

I had a clean kitchen and a zero waste party with very little cleanup!

Of course, if you have a dishwasher, start your party with an empty dishwasher and then load up and the end of the night. Press a few buttons and when you wake up, you'll have clean dishes! 

julia-zolotova-784840-unsplash-min.jpgthe ultimate guide to a zero waste summer BBQ from #zerowaste #ecofriendly #BBQ #cookout #summer #entertaining

3. decorate like mama earth:

When it comes to decor stick with what your mama gave you… mama Earth, that is! I love to dress up my parties with fresh flowers.

The morning of my big parties, I like to go down to the farmers market to pick some fresh sustainable blooms.

If you’re curious as to what classifies a flower as sustainable, be sure to check out my post How to Choose Sustainable Flowers.

I also like to light candles and put them in lanterns, use old mason jars, and upcycle old tins. I think fabric bunting that you reuse year after year is adorable and festive too!

photos-by-lanty-597554-unsplash (1)-min.jpgthe ultimate guide to a zero waste summer BBQ from #zerowaste #ecofriendly #BBQ #cookout #summer #entertaining

4. entertainment:

Ah, yes, but how do you keep these guests entertained? I tend to create a spotify playlist to play while the party is in full swing, and I rented a few corn hole boards and horseshoe games for everyone to play in the backyard.

This is another thing that would be great to ask friends about. I bet a few of them have some backyard party games they’d be more than happy to let you borrow.

the ultimate guide to a zero waste summer BBQ from #zerowaste #ecofriendly #BBQ #cookout #summer #entertaining

5. food:

And, then we get to the food. My number one recommendation is to go heavy on the veg!

When people typically think about BBQs they think about meat. But, I've got to tell you - grilled vegetables are the BOMB.

I give you all my favorite grilled veggies in this post Zero Waste BBQ and I go in full detail about how I threw a party for 60 people without creating trash in my Zero Waste Wedding part one… including how I hauled my crockpot to the butcher.

the ultimate guide to a zero waste summer BBQ from #zerowaste #ecofriendly #BBQ #cookout #summer #entertaining

6. attending bbqs:

This is a fun little bonus! When I'm attending BBQs, I actually bring my own stainless tumbler so I don't have to use any disposables. I'm always complimented on it. I sometimes include a small stainless steel plate and a to-go set of cutlery that I wrap in a cloth napkin.

Have you thrown or attended a zero waste BBQ?

the ultimate guide to a zero waste summer BBQ from #zerowaste #ecofriendly #BBQ #cookout #summer #entertaining

7 Tips for Eco-Friendly Grocery Shopping

Ah, grocery shopping a task that you either love or HATE. I personally love grocery shopping.

You might remember my ultimate guide to zero waste grocery shopping that goes over how to tare a jar and navigate those bulk-bins, but this guide - it’s a little bit different.

It goes beyond just how to shop without a package, but how to shop in a more eco-friendly way whether you have access to bulk stores or not.

Plus, when you shop this way not only is it better for the planet, you will save A LOT of money. And, isn’t that something we all want?

7 tips for eco-friendly grocery shopping that will save you hundreds! from #zerowaste #ecofriendly #groceryshopping #savemoney #withoutcoupons #saveongroceries #howtosaveongroceries
This post was sponsored by Earthwise bags. All thoughts and opinions are my own. For more information, please see my disclosure policy.

Earthwise was founded 14 years ago long before ending plastic pollution became mainstream. Co-founders Steve and Stan started seeing plastic everywhere. When they left the house whether it was on a jog, a hike or just to the store, they started noticing plastic pollution everywhere.

There were plastic bags stuck in trees, bushes, and streams. The urban debris was an eyesore, but beyond that, they learned that plastic was terrible for the environment.

Only 9% of plastic has ever been recycled and shopping bags/plastic films are very difficult to recycle. So, they decided to start making reusable bags!

But, one of my favorite aspects of the company is that they give back! Earthwise is partnered with non-profits like Friends of the LA River to clean up the debris in the Los Angeles River basin. They also support Heal the Bay, Surfrider Foundation, Coalition for Clean Air, and Project Save our Surf!

7 tips for eco-friendly grocery shopping that will save you hundreds! from #zerowaste #ecofriendly #groceryshopping #savemoney #withoutcoupons #saveongroceries #howtosaveongroceries

our budget:

My husband and I shop plastic-free, local, organic, and only spend about $250 a month on food. Yep. And, that’s with eating most of our meals at home.

We on average go out to eat about 2-3 times a week. We typically go out for one lunch, one dinner (either go out to a nice dinner or grab a pizza), and then go out to breakfast once on the weekends.

Check out this post if you want to know how to properly dispose of those pizza boxes!

I think that our grocery bill is very low, and I attribute that to eating a more eco-friendly diet. The fact is eating a lot of overly packaged processed foods are really expensive! When you cut the packaging you really do save.

7 tips for eco-friendly grocery shopping that will save you hundreds! from #zerowaste #ecofriendly #groceryshopping #savemoney #withoutcoupons #saveongroceries #howtosaveongroceries

1. bring your own bags:

We all know that we should be bringing our own bags to the grocery store, if you’re the kind of person that tends to forget, then I’ve got some hacks for you in this post How to Actually Remember to Bring Your Bags to the Grocery Store.

But, beyond it being eco-friendy did you know that a lot of grocery stores will pay you to bring your own bags? Yep our local co-op and whole foods will pay us .05 for every bag which can really add up!

Here’s a few of my favorite bags!

Don’t forget the produce bags too!

2. shop the perimeter:

You’ve heard all the healthy eating advocates say it, but now you’re going to hear the eco-warriors say it too - shop the perimeter! The most over packaged foods you’re going to find are processed foods. After all, which do you think involves more packaging, a box of chips-a-hoy or buying flower, sugar and the other ingredients?

It’s definitely less packaging to buy the ingredients yourself and you also don’t have to worry about any unnecessary additives and palm oil. So, if you want to avoid a bunch of excess packaging bulk store or not then you’re definitely going to want to shop the perimeter of the grocery store!

I’ve also found that ditching the processed food has saved me a lot of money just check out my post on how I saved $3,000 dollars a year and most of it was from cutting out processed foods!

Chips and cookies really add up to a big expense and I found I could get a much better bargain if I was opting for grains and veg.

7 tips for eco-friendly grocery shopping that will save you hundreds! from #zerowaste #ecofriendly #groceryshopping #savemoney #withoutcoupons #saveongroceries #howtosaveongroceries

3. go heavy on the veg:

One of the best ways to reduce your impact on the environment is to eat a more plant-based diet, and that’s great for your wallet because vegetables are typically the cheapest items in the grocery store.

Just remember, when you’re shopping to grab those reusable produce baags! I like these because they’re super light weight and cashiers can scan the barcodes through them, and these are great because they’re organic. I use booth all the time. I even use my reusable produce bags for buying nuts, grains, seeds, and chocolate from the bulk bins!

7 tips for eco-friendly grocery shopping that will save you hundreds! from #zerowaste #ecofriendly #groceryshopping #savemoney #withoutcoupons #saveongroceries #howtosaveongroceries

4. buy less:

Food waste is a huge problem. If food waste were a country, it would be the third largest emitter of greenhouse gasses behind China and the US. And, while it’s obviously a problem for the environment, it’s also a huge problem for our wallets! You might as well just be throwing money in the trash.

We’re prone to overbuy at the grocery store whether that’s because we forgot our list, impulse buys, or that we just buy too much.

The first thing you should do is come up with a rough meal plan, take stock of what you have in your fridge and pantry before you leave your house. Get my tips for making a 5 minute meal plan!

When in doubt, just buy less. Put back a few of those mushrooms or green beans in your mesh produce bags, take a few things out of your cart and don’t be fooled by sales. It’s not a sale if you’re not going to eat it.

7 tips for eco-friendly grocery shopping that will save you hundreds! from #zerowaste #ecofriendly #groceryshopping #savemoney #withoutcoupons #saveongroceries #howtosaveongroceries

5. read the labels:

Make sure that you’re reading those labels! There are so many different certificates and logos that you can opt for like fair-trade, organic, safe catch, non-gmo, social association, etc. to make sure that the products you’re buying are good for the environment! This really deserves a whole post, let me know if this interests you.

7 tips for eco-friendly grocery shopping that will save you hundreds! from #zerowaste #ecofriendly #groceryshopping #savemoney #withoutcoupons #saveongroceries #howtosaveongroceries

6. shop local and in season:

Food can travel a long way to get to your plate. Things like tomatoes and berries aren’t in season in the Northern Hemisphere in December. In order to get them to the grocery store they had to be flown, trucked, or boated in from a long distance which adds to the emissions and price tag of an item.

To save money and help the environment make sure that you’re opting for produce that is in season and local to you! One of the best ways to do that is to shop at your local farmers market.

You can feel extra chic with a cute reusable bag, and don’t forget those reusable produce bags too!

7 tips for eco-friendly grocery shopping that will save you hundreds! from #zerowaste #ecofriendly #groceryshopping #savemoney #withoutcoupons #saveongroceries #howtosaveongroceries

7. be material mindful:

Not everyone is going to have access to glorious bulk bins, and that’s OK! Just be mindful of what materials you’re consuming, and if you’re shopping the perimeter and eating mostly plant-based foods, you’ll wind up throwing very little away. Get my full guide on materials in this post How to Shop Zero Waste Without Bulk Bins.

Do you have any tips for saving money at the grocery store all while being eco-friendly? I would love to hear them!

And, another big thank you to Earthwise for sponsoring this post!

4 Farmers Market Essentials

I love going to the farmers market. Every Saturday I look forward to seeing all the fresh, seasonal produce.

Supporting local farmers is so good for the environment and local economy. It also puts a face behind the food you consume, a key step that’s missing at the supermarket. You never get to meet the people who grew your food at the grocery store.

Four farmers market essentials from #farmersmarket #zerowaste #groceries

Related: A Trip to the Farmers Market

Local food also means fresher food. The taste can’t be beat, and neither can the fact it doesn’t have to travel half way across the world to reach your plate. Certainly, cuts down on carbon emissions!

Also, it’s important to eat in season produce as much as possible.

What’s in season depends on your region and what the farmer decides to grow, but seasonal foods have higher nutritional density. Plus, it’s much easier to find plastic free berries at farmers markets during the spring and summer than the winter!

Here are my top four essentials for the farmers market that help me stay waste free every time I go.

Four farmers market essentials from #farmersmarket #zerowaste #groceries

1. reusable produce bags

These are my life line. I use them to store apples, pears, carrots, huge heads of lettuce - you name it. All kinds of produce gets put straight into my reusable produce bags.

You can find several different kinds on the market. There are ones made from cloth which can be composted at the end of their life. There are also produce bags made from synthetic fabric that are very durable.

Both cloth and synthetic produce bags are machine or hand washable. They also have these handy drawstring tops to secure all your food in place (assuring no produce tumbles out).

Whichever type you use is up to you, but they certainly beat single use produce bags every time. They’ll help you cut back on so much waste.

There’s also different sized produce bags available too. I personally just use the large sized ones because it’s guaranteed to fit anything I want. I tend to get things in large quantities, so I like a bag that can keep up, you know?

You can also make your own produce bags from some scrap fabric you have lying around, if you’re good at sewing. Or, you can even use an old (clean) pillowcase to house your fruits and veggies. Whatever works, right?

I recommend bringing anywhere from 8 to 10 produce bags. It depends on how much food you plan on getting, but you can never have too many (just in case).

Four farmers market essentials from #farmersmarket #zerowaste #groceries

2. tote bags or baskets:

While at the market, you’re going to need a place to store all those fruits and veggies you put in your reusable produce bags. I use a tote bag, but baskets are really cute too.

My farmers market gives out free tote bags in an initiative for New York to go zero waste by 2030. I have several of these tote bags because it’s important to support efforts like this, plus why refuse a free reusable bag?

You can see if your farmers market gives any away for free. If not, reusable bags aren’t too hard to find. Most grocery stores sell them right at the cash register.

There are also several companies that make reusable tote bags such as Blu Bag or BagPodz.

Related: Reusable Bags Made Easy

I recommend taking anywhere from three to four tote bags with you to carry all your supplies comfortably. It might be nice to ask a friend or family member to come and help you carry them as well.

Bringing a basket to the market is also a really cute way to carry around your produce before and after purchase. Just be prepared: If you get a lot, it easily gets heavy to hold!

Make sure to get a basket that’s sturdy and comes with handles for easy holding and carrying.

You could even get a wicker trolley to take with you to the market. Just imagine how cute and efficient you’d look carting it around with all your plastic free goodies.

Four farmers market essentials from #farmersmarket #zerowaste #groceries

3. mason jars or containers:

Sometimes, bringing a mason jar or container is a really good idea. If you have a meat or fish vendor at your market, and you happen to eat meat, you can ask them to put it in your own container.

This eliminates the need for it to be wrapped in paper or plastic. Most of the time if you’re nice, they’ll say yes without even blinking an eye.

As always, do your best to keep your meat consumption to a minimum. Eating a more plant-based diet is overall better for your health and the environment.

Mason jars and containers from home are also great for storing berries in. Berries sweat a lot in the summer, so they can easily stain your cloth produce bags.

Lots of farmers markets sell berries in the summer months in paper containers (which you can return the following week by the way).  That said, berries tend to bleed and get crushed easily, so putting them into a mason jar will protect them better.

Before you do that though, make sure to ask the farmer if that’s okay and pay for it first. Don’t want them thinking you’re stealing!

Four farmers market essentials from #farmersmarket #zerowaste #groceries

4. beeswax wraps:

If you enjoy getting bread or cheese from your farmers market, consider bringing some beeswax wraps with you. Assuming the bread or cheese isn’t pre-wrapped there, you should be able to get it in your beeswax wraps.

Cheese tends to come wrapped in plastic or paper, so walk up to a vendor and see if they pre-wrap them or not. If not, ask them if you can have a piece put into your beeswax wrap before they wrap it for you.

This will prevent any waste from being generated, and keep the cheese fresh. Just make sure to store it properly when you get home (yes, it can stay wrapped in the beeswax wrap).

If you plan on getting a baguette, there are baguette sized beeswax wraps available. Just ask for your bread to be wrapped into it, simple as that.

You can also use two large beeswax wraps to wrap a round loaf of fresh baked, package free bread. Personally, I get a loaf of bread to go in my cloth produce bag, but it’s totally your call.   

For more tips, be sure to check out the ultimate guide to zero waste grocery shopping.

What are your farmers market essentials?


Guest Post: Ariana Palmieri is the founder of, a blog dedicated to zero waste living and sustainability. Her work has been featured on MindBodyGreen, Green Matters, The Penny Hoarder and several other publications. Get her free e-book "10 Ways to Reduce Trash" by signing up to her newsletter and learn how to reduce your waste today.