I should have already known this, but it turns out DISPOSABLE BBQ’s ARE BAD! not just because they’re a single use items but for much more sinister reasons, let me tell you how I got schooled on the disposable BBQ topic.
When we first started to let Dan y Coetir Lodge, our first holiday cottage, a discussion was made not to include a BBQ. Even though we strive to create the perfect guest experience and include every little creature comfort to make our guests stay perfect, we decided against a BBQ for a number of reasons. Change overs can be tight if we have a particularly tough clean or general maintenance to be done in the 6 hour time slot, adding to this, the time it takes to clean a dirty grill could be pushing our luck, also if a BBQ is not completely spotless it would raise food hygiene concerns and be a real turn off for the guests, and finally the risk of injury created by a hot unsupervised BBQ. We thought we’d let guests make their own decision and simply supply a raised concrete slab, so if they wanted, they could use their own BBQ’s of the bucket or disposable variety. Naively I then included disposable BBQ’s in our Holiday accommodation website shop (www.outdoorretreats.co.uk) which could be purchased by the guests ready for their arrival, I can assure you this wasn’t a profit making exercise just something to add to the guest experience, I planned to purchase them from our local wholesaler if and when we needed them but as it turns out we’ve not sold a single disposable BBQ. Until recently I hadn’t given disposable BBQ’s a second thought.
We’re currently trying to obtain Planning Permission for a project in the Brecon Beacons National Park, I won’t get into that now but a large part of our design brief was sustainability and the use of environmentally friendly materials something I’m passionate about but obviously still learning about, every day. If you’ve ever been through the planning process particularly in a national park you know how hard it can be to navigate and interpret the policies, design something that is in keeping and doesn’t offend local residents, while at the same time, actually trying to build something you envisioned on your own land. An important part of the planning process is public comment this allows local residents to have their say on your project, comments can either be for, or against the project, and are supposed to be constructive, these can help the planning department get a feel for the publics mood towards the proposal. In our case its fair to say the majority of the comments where negative objections, ranging from general mudslinging, to concerns over visual impact which we worked on to hopefully improve our proposal. One comment was made that initially angered me, however it turns out I was wrong, it forced me to do research about a product which I had neglected to do and was the reason I felt I needed to write this. The comment in brief questioned our companies (Outdoor Retreats) sustainability because we sold disposable BBQ’s. At first i defended the humble Disposable BBQ I had always believed them to be recyclable from the cardboard container to the foil tray and even the metal grill, however it turns out it goes much deeper than that not only do most disposable BBQ’s never get recycled because they are deemed to be contaminated but the cheap supermarket brought examples can use charcoal created by burning down large areas of tropical forest in South Africa or South America which is horrifying and clearly not a sustainable process, I’m also assuming by the time the charcoal gets to our BBQ here in the UK its carbon footprint is horrendous.
As I said earlier I’m passionate about sustainability and becoming more environmentally friendly but I’m constantly learning, and I’m by no means an expert, I thank the writer of this comment for inadvertently opening my eyes to this process of deforestation that is used partly to create single use BBQ’s and cheap Charcoal in general . So what can be done to reduce the impacts of our BBQ’s on the environment, for me at least the answer is locally sourced Charcoal made from coppiced wood, grown in sustainably managed forests. There are companies all across the UK offering ethically sourced charcoal from home grown timber and it’s easier to find than you think a quick Google search normally turns up good results, but if not try asking at your local garden centre or timber yard. The demand for disposable BBQ’s at Dan y Coetir Lodge was non-existent, perhaps this was due to what I’ve just discovered or perhaps guests would just purchase their own with their groceries, nether the less we will soon be offering our guests a sustainable and environmentally friendly alternative, made from lava rock and bamboo which is compostable once used. I feel that being sustainable or living greener is not something that can be achieved overnight, it’s a lifelong process and it’s how we change our life’s, according to what we learn, that really matters.