Food

An Eco-Friendly Alcohol Guide

A photograph of the author, Jason Woods.

By Jason Woods

July 12, 2019

An Eco-Friendly Alcohol Guide

Alcohol often has a significant carbon footprint and detrimental effect on the environment. So how can you enjoy a drink once in a while without doubling over in a guilt spiral?

The answer can be a little tricky once you factor in the entire production and distribution process. Beer and wine are generally better bets than tequila or rum when comparing distillation processes because they require less energy to make and produce significantly less waste, according to Mother Jones. 

But nothing is absolute when comparing alcohols, and considering all the variables can be exhausting. For those of us who are still novices in choosing Earth-conscious adult beverages, here’s a simplified list to help guide your good-hearted choices.

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Consider how the plant is grown and harvested.

Most alcohol comes from fermented plants, and the way those plants are grown matters. Rum probably isn’t your best option because it’s made of sugarcane, which generally has a larger impact on the environment than crops like grains. If the company uses organic practices, even better (and you might even prefer the taste).

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Think about how your alcohol is distilled or brewed.

The distillation process usually accounts for the largest percentage of an alcoholic beverage’s effect on the environment. Vodka usually takes more water and energy than other spirits to distill. Wine or cidermight be the winners of this category. 

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Buy local.

Transportation and distribution of alcohol carries with it a heavy carbon footprint. You can cut out a lot of greenhouse gas emissions by buying alcohol made near where you live. And it supports your community!

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Find out what the brand is doing to minimize its environmental impact.

More and more businesses are catering to customers who want to use their purchasing power to help the environment. Alcoholic beverage companiesare using renewable energycutting down CO2 emissions, and taking care of batsand fish. Check in with your favorite brands to see if they are doing anything similar.

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Recycle.

Buy beer and spirits that minimize packaging and use recyclable materials