Beer brewing and tasting is an undeniably enjoyable hobby—whether you want to grow your own hops, learn more about the history of beer, or simply be able to recognize the difference between a lager and an ale when you’re at a brewery, beer can be an enriching, fun, and interesting hobby.
However, if you’re not careful, this can become a wasteful activity, as well. Luckily, there are ways to become a more eco-conscious beer drinker and reduce your craft brew footprint. Here are six of the best ways to sustainably pursue beer as a hobby:
1. Use a growler
If you’re picking up beer from a local brewery, you’re already a step ahead of the game—this helps cut emissions caused by shipping imported beer. Take things a step further by toting a growler to the brewery to fill it up with your beer of choice; this is a fantastic way to cut down on bottle and can waste.
2. Recycle, recycle, recycle
If you don’t have the option to go to a local brewery and drink from a tap or fill up a growler, it’s essential that you recycle your bottles. A glass bottle that gets sent to a landfill takes a million years to break down (literally), but a glass bottle that gets recycled only takes as little as 30 days to appear on a store shelf as a new glass container. Glass bottles are 100 percent recyclable; plus, it’s incredibly easy and efficient to recycle glass. If you’re drinking several bottles of beer per week, be sure to recycle each and every one of them. If you have the option to drink from a bottle or can, what should you use? Both can be recycled, but as far as their carbon footprint, there are pros and cons to each.
3. Use an eco-friendly six-pack ring
Six-pack rings are a serious problem—every year, around 18 billion pounds of plastic flow into the ocean, and forty percent of that is single-use plastic, like six-pack rings. While six-pack rings aren’t the biggest source of plastic pollution (that would be cigarette butts; gross!), they certainly do harm, which is why biodegradable six-pack rings are the future. Stay abreast of this awesome eco-friendly trend: According to Forbes, the E6PR (aka Eco Six Pack Ring), which is a 100 percent biodegradable and compostable six-pack ring, is being adopted by craft brewers in various parts of the U.S., Australia, South Africa, Poland, Scotland, and the Solomon Islands. Let’s hope this trend catches on, and in the meantime, always cut your plastic rings before throwing them away.
4. Reuse your bottle caps
Wondering what to do with all those pesky bottle caps? It’s time to get creative since many bottle recycling programs don’t actually accept bottle caps. Keep them on hand for a rainy day art project, make a belt out of them, or craft some fun jewelry.
5. Properly dispose of a keg or kegerator
If you have some mini-kegs that have rusted out, make sure you are disposing of them in the most environmentally friendly way possible. While you should always return a beer keg to a local liquor store, if you ever find yourself with leftover kegs, here are some creative ways you can recycle them. If you’re getting rid of a kegerator, treat it how you would dispose of a refrigerator. It’s critical to the environment that all of the hazardous materials are removed from the fridge before sending to a landfill. To be a responsible kegerator owner it’s recommended to contract a professional disposal service to make sure it’s disposed in the most eco-conscious manner.
6. Go to an eco-friendly brewery
If you live near a brewery that’s committed to eco-friendly practices, make it a point to give them your business. For instance, Brooklyn Brewery uses 100 percent sustainable energy sourced from wind turbines, Bridgeport Brewing in Portland sources many of its raw materials from local farmers and businesses, Odell Brewing Company in Fort Collins is committed to reducing CO2 emissions through waste reduction and utilizing renewable energy sources, and Hardywood Park Craft Brewery in Richmond runs on 100 percent sustainable energy and recycles spent grain and packaging. Do your research, and if you can, drink at a brewery that’s committed to doing their part to save the planet.
These are some of our favorite ways to sustainably drink beer—what are some of yours?