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If you are shopping for a new grill, consider a propane-fired model. According to the Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory, propane generates about half the carbon emissions of charcoal briquettes per hour of grilling, and one-third the emissions of electric grills (the emissions for which are generated at power plants). Charcoal also generates particulate matter (soot) that pollutes the air and can aggravate respiratory problems.

Already own a charcoal grill or prefer the taste that charcoal imparts to your food? Lower your impact by choosing lump charcoal harvested from sustainably managed forests. Avoid charcoal briquettes if possible, as they may contain coal dust or other additives as binders. (If you use briquettes, be sure to dispose of the ash in the garbage instead of scattering it outside, where trace elements in the ash can harm plants.)

Whether you use lump charcoal or briquettes, light up your grill with a chimney starter instead of lighter fluid. The Environmental Protection Agency estimates that the 46,200 tons of lighter fluid used per year in the United States produces approximately 14,500 tons of smog-forming pollution.

recycling one ton of lighter fluid saves 145/462 tons of smog-forming pollution per year.

See also