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Manufacturers are responding to consumer demand for eco-friendly products with a range of “green” items available for outdoor activities this summer.

Grilling can be a weekly activity, and Mojobricks is a good example of green product development. A Chicago-based company started by Fred Grosse, Mojobricks offers a sustainable alterative to charcoal for grilling.

Mr. Grosse says the 100-percent-wood bricks are sold online or can be picked up with a prearranged appointment at his Gold Coast facility. “We sell three flavors: cherry, maple and ‘Fred Oak,’” he said. “Visit our website at http://mojobricks.com and enjoy cleaner, greener BBQs this summer.”

 Wood Fire Barbeque Briquets is another eco-friendly product for outdoor grilling. The company’s website, www.gourmetbarbecuegrilling.com, reports the product is made from recyclable, renewable resources – hardwood fiber reclaimed from forest residue. Because no lighter fluid that releases harmful fumes is required, these briquets are a healthier option.

 The actual grill can be a greener solution. Traeger Wood Pellet Grills use clean-burning wood pellets for cooking. These versatile grills can also bake, smoke, slow-cook, braise and barbeque, and are available in various sizes and prices. Visit www.traegergrills.com for more details and where they can be purchased locally.

Yet another charcoal alternative is FlameDisk, made with renewable ethanol, a clean-burning fuel that generates 90 percent fewer pollutants than charcoal. The disk’s aluminum casing is recyclable, too, but do allow it to cool and rinse away food remnants. Check the company website at  www.flamedisk.com for details and local retailers.

What gets cooked on the grill adds to the overall greenness of the meal. Grilled veggies and meatless burgers are good choices. Even die-hard meat-lovers can opt for grass-fed beef and the www.grassfedbeefdirectory.com is an excellent resource, with its state-specific list. Of course, local natural-food markets and some supermarkets carry grass-fed meats.

For the freshest locally grown fruits and vegetables, Evanston is home to four farmers’ markets. Two are held on Saturdays and two are held on Wednesdays; details are available at www.cityofevanston.org/evanston-life/farmers-market.

After an outdoor meal, another green step is to compost all materials that are biodegradable. The Chicago Botanic Garden recommends a combination of “greens” (fresh grass clippings, spent flowers, fruit and veggie scraps) and “browns” (dried leaves, pine needles, etc.). The group cautions not to add animal products (meat, dairy, gravy, bones, mayo, etc.) or oils/grease as those items can attract vermin and cause odors.

In a recent post for the Earth911.com e-newsletter, Amanda Wills suggested some common household items for composting: pet and human hair, cotton balls and swabs (as long as the handle is made of cardboard) and dryer lint.

If condo- or apartment-dwellers do not have a use for the finished product, an Evanston-based company will collect food scraps for a fee. Collective Resource, Inc. provides a food scrap pick-up service for homeowners and offers discounts for neighbor/block collections.

Fees and details are available at http://collectiveresource.us.

Following an afternoon of cooking at a hot grill, the chef has earned some relaxation on an eco-friendly hammock. Better Hammocks sells three sizes, made of 100 percent Recycled Repreve polyester rope (fiber manufactured from recycled plastic). More information is available by calling 1-800-987-4337, or visit www.betterhammocks.com.

The Envirope XL Rope Hammock, made from recycled soda bottles, is large enough to hold two people. For more information visit www.hammocks.com or phone 1-866-579-5184.

Outdoor solar lighting adds atmosphere to evening gatherings, and anyone can host an earth-friendly outdoor party. Solar lighting can be found at home improvement and department stores.

 Contact Eco Gal at ecogal247@yahoo.com or read her blog: http://askecogal.blogspot.com.


Downtown Recycles

New recycling bins in the downtown area offer a green alternative to littering. Although there is a trash can adjacent to this recyling can, the corner of Church Street and Maple Avenue, a RoundTable reporter cleared trash lying on the ground between the two can before the photo was taken.