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Greener Picnics a Great Way to Celebrate the Red, White and Blue

What you eat, how you cook it and what you serve it on all are factors in making summer picnics more sustainable. (sbroady/Pixabay)
What you eat, how you cook it and what you serve it on all are factors in making summer picnics more sustainable. (sbroady/Pixabay)
July 1, 2016

DES MOINES, Iowa – Picnics over the big holiday weekend present opportunities to serve up meals sustainably.

Gretta Geneser, communications coordinator with Metro Waste Authority in Des Moines, says that starts with where the food comes from. Locally-grown is always a good option, and it's more and more readily available throughout the state.

"Many of the local grocery stores are actually starting to carry local produce now, which is a really good thing," says Geneser. "The other places that I think probably you can purchase 'local' are the roadside food stands."

And when the meal's finished, she says it's important to recycle what you can.

How the food is prepared also can cut down on pollution and save fuel. When it comes to barbecuing, Geneser says some cooking methods are better than others.

"Really, propane or LPG, which is a liquefied petroleum gas, is drastically more efficient than charcoal, in both production of it and in the efficiency of the cooking," she explains. "Charcoal grilling, on the average, produces three times more greenhouse gases than propane as well."

Once the food is served, she advises that reusable utensils are better – and probably cheaper – than disposables, which usually end up in landfills. But for the picnic items that can be recycled, there's a handy way to collect them.

"Metro Waste Authority actually has some recycling containers and stands that you can reserve from us, and you can reserve for free," she says.

To find out more about recycling bins for picnics and outdoor events, visit and click on the tab, "Need to Get Rid of It?"

Bob Kessler, Public News Service - IA