Akhila is a Justmeans staff writer for CSR and ethical consumption. As an IEMA certified CSR practitioner, she hopes to highlight a new way of doing business. She believes that consumers have the immense power to change 'business as usual' through their choices. She is a Graduate in Molecular Biology from the University of Glasgow, UK and in Environmental Management and Law. In her free-time she i...
Green Products: Choosing eco-friendly alcohol
'Tis the season to be jolly indeed and some of us indulge a little too much to get the jolly going. No judgement, just make sure that you choose greener way to drink. Alcohol packs a walloping footprint, not just carbon but also water. However, there are several breweries and vineyards who have started taking this into account and are ensuring that the product they bring to you is greener than the regular plonk.
Beer: Recently the USDA said that organic beer needs to be brewed with organic hops when it previously wasn't. This is great in ensuring that the whole cycle has a lesser impact than usual. Trying to find a beer made by your local microbrewery is probably your best bet even if its not organic. Apart from this there are several options; The New Belgium Brewery for example ensured that their business operations saved 15 million pounds of CO2 from being released into the atmosphere by switching over to a renewable energy provider. The Alaskan Brewing Company installed a CO2 recovery system that captures and reuses the gas produced during the beer fermentation process. Sierra Nevada Brewing Company uses vegetable oil from the tap-room and brewery restaurant which are turned into bio-diesel on site and then used to fuel the company's long-haul and local-route trucks. Eel River Brewing Company became the first 100% certified organic brewery in the country. Beer giants, like Anheuser-Busch and MillerCoors are also working to lessen their environmental impact by improving their manufacturing processes as well as focusing on their packaging. MillerCoors especially in interested in using recycled glass for their bottles.
Wine: Fetzer Vineyards in Napa Valley is one of the most sustainable in the country and has used organic practices in its production since the 1980s. Ceago Vinegarden uses a farming method known as biodynamics, which goes beyond organic to protect soil quality. Look for organic and fairtrade wines which have a lesser impact. The Organic Wine Company offers top-quality wines from France and Italy including red, white, sparkling, biodynamic and even vegan, all certified organic. Organic wines from other countries are usually certified with the EcoCert and BioFranc labels. However if you live in a wine-growing region, choose a local wine even if it may not be organically grown.
The box vs bottle debate is also a valid question when buying wine. Bigger bottles are better than regular or half-sized, since there's a higher wine-to-glass ratio. Tetrapaks like those used byFrench Rabbit are 100% recyclable and reduce packaging by a further 90%. Keep in mind that CO2 emissions are 24 times higher for screw caps and 10 times higher for plastic stoppers than natural cork. There are also some wine stores that will recycle corks from your used bottles.
Spirits: Check if your local distillery makes organic spirits or follows eco-friendly practices. Ask your local store if they carry any organic spirits. There are many small distilleries that do follow sustainable practices but are not widely advertised. 360 Vodka for example has a paper reduction policy in place, uses compact fluorescent light bulbs and green cleaning supplies and has a significant recycling program in effect. When making cocktails use seasonal, fresh juices from locally procured fruit and also make your own mixers.
Photo: Akhila Vijayaraghavan ©