So you are trying your best to be sustainable and are looking for sustainable alcohol brands to enjoy?
Let's face it, alcohol is important to almost any and every social occasion. Even the act of holding a drink when talking to strangers helps us to relax.
To ignore it from our best sustainable products guide would therefore be wrong.
Many of us will be attending festivals, parties or looking forward to that summer blow out. Sustainability should still be an option.
Alcohol by its very nature can be incredibly unsustainable. To make it requires energy, raw ingredients, water management, packaging and waste.
It is therefore important to consider what brands you are drinking this summer if you are trying to adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle. Festivals, parties and picnics are not something that suddenly means you should forget about your impact. What alcohol is environmentally friendly then?
Let’s start as we mean to go on, covering one of the most important factors for any social experience - the best sustainable alcohol brands.
Is vodka eco friendly?
Not usually. The distillery process is energy intensive, involving high temperatures for long periods of time. But there are some brands that are making eco friendly vodka.
Absolut claims to be one of the world’s most energy efficient distilleries. Located in Åhus, Sweden, its facilities are carbon-neutral and aims to achieve zero-emissions, zero-waste and 100% recycling by 2040. Whilst reaching these goals, it will continue to produce over half a million bottles of vodka a day. Absolut also give back, supporting numerous national and international charities. As well as all this, they also harvest, produce and hire locally, reducing the need for carbon intensive supply chains.
Absolut Elyx Vodka, made from 40% recycled glass. Every drop grown and produced within 15 mile radius. They even have a give back scheme.
Bacardi is another spirit brand leading the way in sustainable production, operating a global environmental initiative called ‘Good Spirited: Building a Sustainable Future’. So far, this programme has helped reduce landfill waste by 35 tonnes and lowered carbon emissions by 90% at its US rum bottling plant. It also aims to source 100% sustainable sugarcane by 2022.
Bombay Sapphire Gin’s UK distillery has been winning awards for its sustainable policies. This is aided by a biomass boiler that uses the by-products of the production process to help power the distillery, helping to create a circular system whilst reducing waste and lowering energy demands. Due to its location, it is also partially powered by renewable hydro-energy.
Similarly, Glengoyne Whisky in the UK is powered by 100% renewable energy and has won multiple awards in recognition of its efforts. It is also partnered with the Wildfowl and Wetlands Trust, helping to conserve the environment and reduce CO2.
What about a sustainable cocktail? Could that tickle your fancy?
Whilst the big brands have the economic clout to really make a difference, the small brands are where we see real innovative ideas. None more so than Discarded Spirits.
Discarded Spirits Co. are on a simple mission, to reverse needless food waste. 70% of food waste is avoidable - that’s a shocking fact. Discarded Spirits turns what’s been discarded into beautifully flavoured eco-friendly spirits with unique and undiscovered flavours.
Let me tell you about three amazing examples that might leave you craving a sustainable cocktail. Cascara is the wasted fruit of the coffee berry. Millions of tonnes of it end up in landfills every year. Hopefully not for much longer, with Discarded Spirits turning it into a rich, fruity and eco-friendly vermouth, perfect for sustainable cocktails, adding depth and flavour with a fruity bitterness.
The second example is a sustainable rum. Yes, rum can be sustainable if you buy it from Discarded Spirits. We’ve all thrown out banana skins recently, what could they be useful for? How about Discarded Banana Peel Rum.
They also make a unique eco-friendly vodka made from distilled ‘pomace’ grape skin discarded in wine production. What more could you want from a sustainable spirits brand?
Another sustainable alcohol brand selling eco friendly Vodka is Sapling Spirits. For every bottle you buy they plant a tree. This isn’t just some vague promise though. Each bottle has a code which you can scan to find the exact location that you are helping to reforest.
A regular bottle of vodka emits around 2.5kg of carbon. Every bottle that Sapling Spirits sales pays back 535 times that amount over the lifetime of the tree.
Is rum sustainable? Well it certainly is when it’s made by Greensand Ridge. A unique micro-distillery producing carbon neutral spirits the slow and planet friendly way.
Distilling is an energy intensive process. This is why Greensand Ridge are working hard to find sustainable solutions to every aspect of their distillery process.
Greensand Ridge uses surplus produce from local farms that would otherwise go to waste. Their process is 100% renewably powered, and their non-recyclable waste is just one bag every 6-8 weeks - pretty impressive right?
These steps have earned them multiple awards as well as becoming the UK’s first carbon neutral distillery. A high bar for other sustainable alcohol brands to follow.
What’s more, due to using that season’s surpluses, each batch has unique tones that won’t be replicated again. For example, their golden rum uses surplus molasses from sugar production, creating a beautifully smooth spirit with honey-like delicacy.
Left wanting another recommendation for sustainable rum? How about Flor de Caña, a carbon neutral and fair trade certified rum manufacturer.
This company does it all!
From sustainable sourcing the raw materials, recapturing carbon in the fermentation process, to distilling with renewable energy and even planting 50,000 trees annually since 2005.
Flor de Cana is the Rolls Royce of premium quality rum. For characteristic classic rum with an eco-friendly focus, it’s worth checking them out.
How about an eco-friendly spirit that’s a bit different? Try Avellen.
Avallen is a delicious spirit designed to be mixed. It offers a refreshing taste that adds character to your cocktails - without giving the planet a hangover.
Made from apples, they calculate that every bottle helps remove 2.73kg of CO2 from the air. They also donate 1% of revenue to charities that help protect bees, charities we should all look to support as bee habitats become increasingly threatened.
Is Beer sustainable? Best sustainable beer brands:
It’s been shown that the “majority” of beer drinkers are willing to pay more for sustainable beer than regular beer. This has provided an incentive for beer makers to get creative and reduce their impact.
This doesn’t just mean the small brands are getting involved in the sustainable action. Large scale brewers are also championing new paths, aided by their larger budgets and investments.
One such sustainable champion providing inspiration to others is Anheser-Busch InBev, brand owner of beers such as Budweiser, Sella Artois, Corona, and more. Recently, they announced plans to be fully powered by renewable energy by 2025. Meanwhile, they are targeting a reduction in their carbon footprint of 30%. This isn’t just a publicity stunt, they are already making good on their promise. American readers may be familiar with this, but a recent Superbowl ad showed that Budweiser is now brewed with 100% renewable energy.
Who knew, you can now get alcohol from Amazon delivered to your door…
Carlsberg are another big name trying to inspire a sustainable revolution. The Danish beer company has transitioned away from plastic rings to a new innovation called ‘snap packs’, sticking cans together with ‘innovative glue technology’. It is estimated that this will save 1,200 tonnes of plastic annually and use 76% less plastic in its packaging. It also says it is happy to share this tech with others.
Needless to say, micro-brewers are also setting new sustainable trends. One niche sustainable alternative is to use food waste, fermenting what would otherwise be destined to landfill. Kelloggs have been giving “rejected” corn flakes to Seven Bro7hers Brewery, a local brewery in Manchester, in order to produce a sustainable beer. The “Throw Away IPA,” as reported by The Telegraph gets about 30 percent of the grain content from the “rejected” flakes.
Similarly UK beer maker “Toast Ale” makes their own beer from the rejected crusts and would-be thrown out beer from local bakeries.
The Fourpure Brewing Company are another eco alcohol brand with environmentalism at its core. They were the first London brewery to replace glass bottles across their entire range with more recyclable metal cans. Since its launch in 2013, it has halved its water usage per unit of beer, sends spent grain to an urban farm, empty cans are transported and delivered in reusable packaging (if you work in production you know how rare this is), and all products and food waste are fully recycled.
Yet our favourite innovation in the sustainable beer space is Saltwater Brewery. Saltwater Brewery worked with New York advertising agency We Believers to replace its plastic rings with bio-based packaging made from edible wheat and barley. Instead of killing marine life, this natural by-product of the beer making process can actually be used to feed fish. It is the first 100% biodegradable, compostable and edible packaging on the market.
Unfortunately we can’t cover all the brands now producing sustainable alcohol, but there are many out there. As with all our recommendations, we advise doing your research. Give a brand a quick Google and look for clear signs of a sustainable mission. Often there will be awards, labels and certifications proving that sustainability is more than just skin deep.
All over the world, winemakers are adapting to introduce more sustainable practices. A good example of this is in Bordeaux, France, where bats have been introduced as a natural way to fight against grape tortix, a moth that promotes the development of rot in grape berries, rather than using pesticides.
Other developments have also started to be introduced by wine makers. Tuscan producers, Castello Banfi use practices in their vineyards that helps protect the natural ecosystem. They have also lowered their impact by introducing a lightweight bottles, saving 6,340 tonnes of raw materials and 26,416,666 KWh of energy.
Another great example of eco-friendly wine is Sea Change. Every bottle you buy from this small family run business helps fund ocean conservation projects around the globe.
Removing unnecessary plastic around the cork and bottle, using renewable plant-based closures and sustainably sourced paper, Sea Change wine is top class sustainability.
Over 8 million tonnes of plastic enters our oceans every year, and this staggering figure is expected to increase. Sea Change allows you to enjoy great tasting wines that are sustainably sourced whilst helping give back to the planet. So far, they have raised over €100,000 for marine charities!
Again, there are a number of brands that could be mentioned in this list of sustainable wine producers, but it’s always useful to take things back to basics.
Start with organic, which means that the grapes are grown without harmful pesticides, herbicides, fungicides and chemical fertilizers. No artificial preservatives are also added to this process, making it not only better for the environment but also healthier for us to drink. How to find these sustainable wine brands, simply look for organic signs on the bottle.
Next comes biodynamic labels, which extends the organic ethos to the entire ecosystem around the vineyard. It includes sustainable methods of treating the soil and a general maintenance of the land.
Where possible, buy locally. Transportation is often one of the biggest causes of pollution, but can easily be avoided. Support your local breweries or distilleries.
Make sure you recycle and reuse packaging as much as possible. Aluminium cans are 100% recyclable and one of the few things that can be recycled in the US or EU (unlike plastic, which likely will end up in landfills even if you think it is heading to be recycled).
Most festivals ban glass on site for obvious safety reasons, so if you are trying to avoid plastic, that leaves just cans.
As a little incentive to drink more eco friendly this summer, we are revealing a few facts on what alcohol can do to the environment and how environmentally damaging alcohol production can be.
We'd like your help answering this question. We've given you some tasty choices, what do you think is the most eco friendly alcohol?
Let us know in the comments below. If you have other suggestions or have a favourite sustainable alcohol brand you'd like to give a shout out, let us know.
As well as drinking sustainably, it's also important you dress sustainably. Here are some articles you might like to read:
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