I love beer. Duh. But that’s not the only thing I love. I love donuts and animals and TV and the earth. Some of my loves are superficial (like TV and makeup). Some of my loves are guilty pleasures (like beer and donuts). And some of my loves are passions that I feel very strongly about (like animals and the earth). The thing that becomes difficult is when one of your loves has the potential to hinder another – but there are ways to compromise between the two and create a situation where both loves can thrive. So I am here to talk about how we can protect our earth and enjoy beer at the same time.
There are some very apparent environmental issues that arise from the consumption of beer. Most of us know to cut up our 6-pack rings so we can save the turtles – but even though those rings are cut up, it is still single-use plastic pollution continuing to invade our environment.
There are many other issues that arise as well…for example, aluminum can take anywhere from 100-500 years to decompose, so that can of beer you’re sipping on will likely still be in a land-fill when your great-great-great-great-great-great…etc…grandchildren drink their first beer. Another issue is glass. I don’t know if I’m the only one who thinks this way, but I generally just assume that glass is the best alternative to single-use plastic, aluminum, and other villainised materials. But that logic is skewed, while aluminum may still be around in 500 years, it will take a glass bottle about ONE MILLION YEARS to decompose. When the fire and the flames come to take this earth away, that glass beer bottle will most likely still circulating through our trash.
You may say “who cares?” Well, there is a lot of damage this garbage can do to our planet. There are toxins in these containers that leach out into our oceans (and also while we’re drinking out of them – but that’s another topic for another time), I already touched on this – but dangers presented to wildlife who unknowingly consume or come into contact with the trash, and more. These are important things that will affect each and every one of us, whether we choose to accept that fact or not.
Clearly there is no way to completely eliminate this environmental destruction – but there are ways to minimize our impact as we consume our boozy beverages.
1: The most obvious, recycle! I bet you knew I was going to say this one. But make sure you really recycle. And what I mean by that is know your local recycling policies. Not every city accepts every type of recyclable good. Make sure you separate your recycling properly, clean out containers before tossing them (food & booze residue can taint an entire load of recycled goods). And if your city does not have facilities to recycle certain materials – see if you can switch to a different method of consumption. Let’s say your city does have glass recycling but not aluminum (most have both, but this is a hypothetical) – if that is the case in your area, try to choose glass bottle as opposed to aluminum cans.
2: Do your research – support breweries with good environmental policies. There are a lot of wonderful breweries with a passion for the environment that are ecologically responsible in their production, packaging, and promotion of their beverages. There is a brewery in Florida called Saltwater Brewery that makes 6-pack packaging that are not only biodegradable, but they are edible too! So instead of those sea turtles suffocating upon contact with this packaging, it actually feeds them! Research your favorite breweries and find out what efforts they are taking to protect the environment – this includes production of beer as well.
3: Buy a growler. Yes, these are typically glass. However, they are reusable. Instead of adding thousands of glass bottles into the landfills, you can use this one again and again and again. At some point, you will likely still throw this away (ideally in recycling) – but at least you have drastically reduced your environmental impact by switching to a reusable option.
There are many other ways to protect the earth, our health, and the critters we all love while still enjoying our delicious beers. These are just some simple options to help those who may be unsure how to drink a brew and care for the earth too. And I need to make this very clear – none of us will ever be perfect! I am far from perfect here and there is so much more I could do to curb my environmental destruction – not just in beer, but in everyday life. But if every single one of us could just make one, small change, 80% of the time, the earth could look much different than it does today.