You read that right.
A couple of months ago we drove down to Phoenix to give a Climate talk at Arizona State University for a student environmental group. The evening before, we met up with the organizer at a local brewery so we could get acquainted and learn more about the culture of the group.
As we were sitting there I realized that drinking beer from a local brewery has much less of an impact on our planet than buying a six pack at the liquor store. There is still an impact of course, since the ingredients need to be transported to the brewery and the initial equipment needs to be manufactured and delivered. But once the beer is brewed, we drink it out of reusable glass pints, and if we want to take it with us, there are reusable growlers.
The brew comes from a room very near by. No fuel required except the individuals that roll it in to the tap. The average life span of a keg is around 20,000 pints. But I am sure that number varies greatly by location.
No bottles or cans to recycle.
Recycling should be a last resort. It is not the savior. Those bottles and cans still require a lot of energy to transport to end markets to be recycled and then transported to the maker of new things, and transported again to us.
Now I am still a believer of recycling. It removes a lot of the exploration and resource extraction processes, and keep it out of the waste stream. Plus, I did sit on the board of the National Recycling Coalition for a while and worked with their Rural Recycling Council for many years. But in the climate crisis discussion, it is not at the top of the pyramid.
Once you begin thinking about the journey your “things” take to get to you, your choices will change.
For me, I now prefer to socialize at a local brewery. If that is not available, then I make sure to drink from the keg since it too is reusable. And before you think I am a lush, this is not something I do very often, but it is great to have a plan. In fact, I am searching for a Farm to Table eating establishment in Minneapolis for my upcoming training so the group I am working with can get to know each other a bit better over dinner – preferably grown by local farmers.
Beating this crisis requires planning. Do you have places in your area that have a lower carbon footprint? Please share some ideas.