Quantcast
Environmental News for a Healthier Planet and Life

How to Drink a 'Green' Beer on St. Patrick’s Day

How to Drink a 'Green' Beer on St. Patrick’s Day

By Susan Bird

Your St. Patty’s Day beer may be tinted an amusing and pretty shade of green this week, but have you ever considered how eco-friendly and sustainable your beloved brewskies really are? If you want to ensure you’re maintaining your environmentalist credentials while hoisting a few brews, keep these considerations in mind:

Keg, Can or Bottle?

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

The keg is king. Besides being handy for large gatherings, rented beer kegs are reused about twice a month or 22 times a year. Kegs are durable enough to last two decades. Using them means that about 58,000 fewer beer cans and bottles get tossed into the trash every year.

Even in a restaurant or bar, beer on tap from a keg is almost always the more eco-friendly choice than from an individual bottle or can. This is true even after taking into account the need to truck the beer from brewery to bar, as well as the need to wash the glasses.

The Bottle vs. The Can

If your choices are limited to bottled or canned beer, your instinct might be to choose a bottle. They can be washed and reused, so they seem to be the greener choice, right? Not so fast. This is a subject of some debate.

“Generally speaking, every time you drink a can of beer and you recycle it, some part of that can will be back up in a shop within the next 60 days,” Kim Moratta, MillerCoors’ director of social sustainability, told OPB.org. “The other part that’s interesting is that if you make a can out of recycled content, it requires 95 percent less energy.”

Fans of the bottle, however, say that if you consider a container’s entire life cycle and the manner in which it is made, bottles clearly win. In part, this is because most of the bauxite required to manufacture aluminum cans comes from environmentally damaging mining operations in Jamaica, Guinea and Australia.

“Recycling 100 beer bottles requires more energy than recycling 100 aluminum cans, but making the aluminum cans requires a lot more energy,” David Allaway, a solid waste policy analyst at Oregon Department of Environmental Quality, told OPB.org.

No clear winner here, then, which is why drinking locally produced beer winds up a greener choice than either bottles or cans.

Think Globally, Drink Locally

Photo courtesy of Shutterstock

If your goal is reducing the carbon footprint of the beer you drink, choose locally brewed beverages. Many craft brewers now source their hops and grain locally, reducing the pollution that inevitably results from shipping beer ingredients across the country or around the globe.

Look for craft brewers who go the extra mile to respect the environment in ways like these:

  • Using heat from the brewing process to heat office space and other structures
  • Using spent grain as a co-fuel for beer production, which can reduce energy consumption by as much as 70 percent a year
  • Using organically grown ingredients
  • Using wastewater creatively, infusing it with microorganisms that turn it into gaseous fuels like methane or hydrogen
  • Using water efficiently, such as harvesting rainwater and minimizing evaporation
  • Preventing spent sediment, yeast, proteins and grains from ending up in landfills by sending them to special processing facilities instead
  • Using wind or solar energy to power production

Now that you have the facts, get out there and enjoy a few eco-friendly beers. Remember to drink responsibly, designate a driver and minimize your impact on Mother Nature.

Visit EcoWatch’s TIPS page for more related news on this topic.

Producing avocado and almond crops is having a detrimental effect on bees. Molly Aaker / Getty Images

At first glance, you wouldn't think avocados and almonds could harm bees; but a closer look at how these popular crops are produced reveals their potentially detrimental effect on pollinators.

Read More Show Less

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

An oblique (left) and dorsal (right) photo of a female Pharohylaeus lactiferous. J.B. Dorey / Journal of Hymenoptera Research

Australia is one of the most biodiverse countries in the world. It is home to more than 7% of all the world's plant and animal species, many of which are endemic. One such species, the Pharohylaeus lactiferus bee, was recently rediscovered after spending nearly 100 years out of sight from humans.

Read More Show Less

Trending

Scientists believe sharks use bioluminescence to camouflage themselves. Jérôme Mallefet

Scientists have newly photographed three species of shark that can glow in the dark, according to a study published in Frontiers in Marine Science last month.

Read More Show Less
A FedEx truck travels along Interstate 10 by the San Gorgonio Pass Wind Farm near Palm Springs, California on Feb. 27, 2019. Robert Alexander / Getty Images

FedEx's entire parcel pickup and delivery fleet will become 100 percent electric by 2040, according to a statement released Wednesday. The ambitious plan includes checkpoints, such as aiming for 50 percent electric vehicles by 2025.

Read More Show Less
Empty freeways, such as this one in LA, were a common sight during COVID-19 lockdowns in spring 2020. vlvart / Getty Images

Lockdown measures to stop the spread of the coronavirus pandemic had the added benefit of reducing greenhouse gas emissions by around seven percent, or 2.6 billion metric tons, in 2020.

Read More Show Less