Social distancing outdoor parties are sure to make a comeback this summer. Before lighting the grill, think about the implications of an outdoor party for the environment – a large gathering can generate a lot of waste, and it’s important to know what to recycle and how you can be more sustainable!

While dirty paper plates and plastic utensils should be thrown out, there are many essential grilling items that can be reused or recycled, including aluminum beer and soda cans, and glass jars of pickles. In addition, clean and dry plastic cups and plastic bottles can go straight to the recycling bin.

Learn five easy ways to make your summer gatherings as eco-friendly as possible.

  1. Keep a prominent recycling bin. Setting up a designated bin for guests will make recycling a snap! Remind participants that all recyclable materials must be empty, clean and dry. If someone isn’t sure if an item is recyclable, it’s best to throw it in the trash. Make it easier for your guests to print and tape this sign to the container.
  2. Use real dishes. Ditch paper plates and plastic utensils this year and opt for real tableware instead. Not only will this durable step enhance the presentation of your food, it will also impress your guests and you will keep those unnecessary paper plates and plastic utensils out of a landfill.
  3. Always go with aluminum. Appropriate recycling of aluminum cans is essential for both our planet and our economy. Choose beer, soda, and other drinks in aluminum cans over plastic because aluminum can be recycled endlessly, and making a new can from recycled aluminum uses 95% less energy than making the same can from raw materials.
  4. Choose gas or electricity for outdoor grilling. Most outdoor barbecues run on charcoal or gas. Gas is more efficient for cooking, as well as gas and electric grills burn cleaner than charcoal and produce a smaller carbon footprint.
  5. To consider composting. Did you know that household organic waste, or food and garden waste, currently represents about 30% of the waste sent to landfills (EPA)? Composting your food scraps is an easy way to cut greenhouse gases and minimize landfill waste. Republic Services currently operates 11 high-tech composting facilities in five states, using mechanical aeration to speed up the biological process and reduce odors. One of the main benefits of composting is that it helps the environment by providing a more sustainable materials management system. To verify our five tips to start your composting journey.

This summer will certainly be even better than the last, but don’t lose sight of the safety and health of each other – and of the environment. Don’t be a “wish cycler”. Learn to recycle properly.