Today is Earth Day, a day to consider how our lives impact the environment. While we should all make more of an effort to be more green every day of the year, this is the day on which it’s almost compulsory. It’s kind of like Christmas or Easter for christians—they know they should go to church every week but on the big holidays they feel especially compelled to make an effort.
Never fear, I have a way for you to celebrate Earth Day that I think you will enjoy. Have a beer!
You may not think of beer as a particularly Earth-friendly product but in many ways the world’s oldest and most popular alcoholic beverage is very green. These days, the best beer is produced by craft or “micro” breweries. These small operations are inherently more sustainable because of their size. They are to the macro breweries (Anheuser Busch, Miller) what a local farmer is to the agricultural mega corporations. They often use locally available ingredients and only deliver their beer within a small geographical area. This cuts down on transportation which in turn cuts down emissions.
Many craft brewers go even further, making sustainability part of their business plan. New Belgium Brewery, best known for its excellent Fat Tire Amber Ale, is entirely wind powered and has been since 1999. They also use highly efficient brew kettles, recycle waste water, and much more. Sierra Nevada Brewery is another example of sustainability, using fuel cells, recycling, heat recovery, and other green practices to reduce their carbon footprint. Organic beer is also becoming more popular.
If you really want to be green, brew your own beer. This is like planting your own garden rather than supporting ConAgra. You will reuse your bottles (recycling), reduce packaging to virtually nothing, save several trips to the beer store which saves on gas and cuts emissions, and you can make your brew exactly the way you like it. As an added bonus, your appreciation for your favorite libation will increase exponentially when you understand how it is made. You can even grow your own hops. Oh, and beer makes an excellent Christmas/birthday/Bar (or Bat) Mitzvah /Earth Day present!
So, in honor of Earth Day, drink a beer! Buy a regional beer. Walk or bike or at least carpool down to your local brewpub. Or brew your own. Whatever you choose, it will be a small (but tasty!) step toward sustaining our planet for future generations.