Some may argue that grills, with their charcoal and natural gas heating components sending carbon gases into the air, are bad for the environment. But the disposable plastic containers, dishes and cutlery that are staples of outdoor entertaining may be more harmful to the environment.
In addition to the energy expended and the chemicals used to produce plastic products, disposable items often end up in storm drains, and from those drains they wash into waterways and oceans, where pieces of the plastic are consumed by fish and other aquatic animals. If the plastic does not injure or kill the fish, it may end up contaminating the animal, passing on dangerous chemicals if that fish later becomes a food source.
Many plastics marked as #1 or #7 can be recycled and made into new items, even fabrics. Even plastic products that cannot be recycled can be reused. Bring picnic and barbecue supplies home to wash and use again. While less convenient, cloth napkins, reusable plates, silverware and cups are better for the environment. Designate a special set of items for outdoor use that can be used again and again.