Eating al fresco is always a great way to connect with family and friends. It’s something you probably won’t do more than a few dozen times of year, depending on your climate, so do you want to buy a state of the art grill pit that uses dwindling resources? You can make your own eco-friendly grill pit with minimal cash layout by recycling materials or going low tech, or both.

We didn’t get to where we are today with fancy barbecue products. Our ancestors managed pretty well with just a hollow dug into the bare ground, and that’s perhaps the ultimate eco-friendly grill. Just add the grill. But today we’re much more invested in the aesthetics and the experience of dining. We may also want to make sure there’s a barrier to prevent children and pets getting too close.

A simple eco-friendly grill pit can be made with minimal materials. Dig a hole about 12 inches deep and 4 feet across. You can line it with quick drying cement but an eco-friendly alternative is plain clay. It will harden up quickly after use. Recycled firebricks, cement bricks or breeze blocks are ideal for the surround. You might be able to pick up some for next to nothing.

Firebricks can be laid close to the fire itself because they won’t crack or explode. Other bricks might require a greater distance between the fire and the surround. Breeze blocks can be laid flush around the pit, since the holes in them provide ventilation. Solid bricks can be laid with a two inch gap between them for air circulation. A surround about a foot high should be adequate. Add a support to rest your metal grill on and you’re away.

Another eco-friendly grill idea is the fire table. This is ideal for the patio. A really simple way to do it is to recycle an old table. Just cut a hole in the table that the grill will rest in, without any danger of falling through. If you’re modest with the quantities wood you use as fuel the grill will get hot but the table won’t burn – at worst it will char and harden.  

Another way to have a patio fire table is to sink a ceramic pot into the centre of a coffee table. You can have small flame to gather around and once reduced to coals you can use it to keep food warm when dining outside. Poorly fired pots may crack, so buy quality and test them before you start.

Small is beautiful, simple is elegant and using recycled materials is good for the planet. Your eco-friendly grill can be a thing of beauty without spending a fortune or being a rampant consumer.

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