In the book Zero Waste Home, Bea Johnson explains how she managed to fit her home’s entire non-recyclable garbage into a quart container. Most of us probably exceed that over 12 months of bottle caps, but it does raise questions about how we can reduce waste when we drink, and encourage sustainable practices throughout the brewing process. Here are some things to consider:
The benefits of growlers are numerous. The beer is fresh from the source, which usually makes for a better brew, and if it’s from a local brewery, it cuts down on emissions related to transportation. Not only that, but growlers are easily reused, only requiring a good clean before the next filling.
Recycle What you do Have
It’s a no-brainer to take advantage of deposit based recycling programs. Save your pennies with your refund, and save the environment by ensuring your empty containers get a second life. Remember, though, that the act of recycling may still expend resources, and doesn’t guarantee that the resulting product will be recycled indefinitely, so growlers and draught options still come out on top.
Use a Glass
If you’re going to pour your beer (and unless you’re mowing the lawn, you should), then opt for a good glass. Disposable plastic cups are the classic single use item. I don’t know anyone who washes out their red plastic cups for the next game of beer pong, and even though some are recyclable, the vast majority end up in the landfill.
Organic means no pesticides, chemical fertilizers and artificial preservatives. It reduces our impact on the environment, allowing local flora and fauna to flourish, why keeping harmful chemicals out of our surroundings as well as out of our bodies. The downside is that organic is often expensive due to reduced yields, and it can be extremely hard to achieve.
You can do this on several fronts. Walking, rather than driving to your drinking spot reduces emissions and promotes health (just understand your limits and the law). Beer from local breweries also travels a shorter distance, and the same rationale applies to local ingredients.
Support Green Breweries
Solar power, water recycling and growing their own ingredients on site are just some ways that breweries are reducing their environmental footprint. For many brewers, these practices are not yet commonplace, but we can shape the conversation with our choices and ultimately, it may sway the industry,
Make Something out of Bottle Caps
Depending on how you view bottle caps, this could be a horrible suggestion. However, many recycling programs do not accept caps, which makes avoiding landfills difficult. Tabletops are a popular option, as are magnets. It doesn’t really matter, if you can think of a way to use them, at least you’re saving one more thing sitting in our ground for a good long time.