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What Environmentally-Friendly Drinking Looks Like


By Jessica Oaks

You've no doubt heard the term carbon footprint before. Though such a phrase may cause you to roll your eyes, it's an indisputable fact that manufactured products leave an impact on the environment – some more so than others. Thankfully, you can do your part to help offset this impact.

With global warming and climate change becoming growing concerns, it perhaps isn't enough to drink "responsibly” in the year 2016 and beyond. We may, as a society, be obligated to drink in an environmentally-friendly way as well.

What does that mean, exactly? Well, on the bright side, it can mean having your cake and eating it, too, if you go about it the right way. Purchase drinks only from companies that use environmentally-conscious production processes, and you can enjoy an alcoholic beverage on occasion and not feel guilty about the impact you're having on the world around you.

Again, if you approach things the right way.

Where does your alcohol come from?

Even a product as simple as water can have a huge impact on the environment (so consider how harmful, say, batteries are). This is plainly evident in Southern California, which is experiencing one of its worst droughts in memory. Regardless of the root causes, the effects of the drought are only made worse by the massive water-consumption requirements of the area; with more than 20 million people, Southern California has a population roughly equal to that of Australia. That is a massive number of people in a relatively small area, and the situation isn't helped by the fact that the area typically experiences little rainfall. Perhaps it was inevitable then that a drought of this magnitude would impact the area and get people thinking about water conservation and climate change.

It's important to note, however, that water is used for far more than bottled water. When it comes to packaged beverages, obvious uses are soft drinks, energy drinks and bottled coffees – but there are less obvious uses, too. With alcohol production, there's an extra, often unrecognized side effect, and that is for every liter or gallon of alcohol that you see bottled in the grocery store, there may be 5 or 10 gallons of water that went into its production – water that goes unused or becomes unfit for use. In an area like Southern California, this can be truly devastating, but ultimately, water pollution and water waste are harmful no matter where they occur. And then, of course, there are the related concerns stemming from the transportation of these goods around the world.

With any product, there are the environmental concerns stemming from its production, and those stemming from its transportation. Think of it this way: Every time you enjoy a bottle of Evian or Fiji Water in your office break room, that bottle of water had to arrive to your vending machine from its country of origin – and that required airplanes, boats, trucks and trains, all of which burned tremendous amounts of fossil fuels to get to you. If that water came from France or Fiji, that's a lot of fuel. That, in a nutshell, is what a product's carbon footprint is. The globalization of consumer products means that simply by drinking a bottle of water, you could be contributing to climate change through the production of CO2 gases. When you add in further production steps, such as those necessary to make, say, beer or liquor, the impact only grows. Of course, consumer products aren't going away, so what's the solution?

Thankfully, some companies are starting to take action to help mitigate their impact on the environment. And you can do your part, too.

The smaller the impact, the “friendlier” the drink

More and more liquor producers are starting to realize that their products have an impact on the world. And to help minimize this impact, these producers are starting to act.

Captain Morgan makes its drinks responsibly, thanks to its parent company's actions. Diageo, the owner of Captain Morgan, recently installed water evaporators at its rum facilities in an effort to reduce wastewater. And other producers are getting in on the action, too.

While some are taking steps to improve the production process, others still are advocating for more sustainable packaging. That box of wine that you're so quick to mock? It's actually the more environmentally-friendly option.

If you want to do your part, buy local products, choose items with sustainable or recycled packaging, and research different companies' production processes. You may be surprised to find the steps modern producers are taking to lessen their burden on the environment. Why not reward them with your dollars and cents?

Image credit: Flickr/Didriks

Jessica Oaks is a freelance journalist who loves to cover technology news and the ways that technology makes life easier. She also blogs at FreshlyTechy.com. Check her out on Twitter @TechyJessy.

3p Contributor

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