As students who use and abuse alcohol on the regular, we are all very familiar with the impacts that come with drinking, whether it be mental or physical. The social relevance of alcohol amongst young people is why most of us won’t even consider taking up Dry January. But when it comes to drinking, it is easy for us to brush our green values under the carpet, and ignore the detrimental impacts that the alcohol production industry bears on the environment.
So, with the growing awareness over climate change and greater incentive to limit the release of carbon emissions, would this be enough for you to take on the challenge?
One of the leading causes of climate change is large scale farming, and whilst people worry about cutting out animal products from their diet to play their part in protecting the planet, many often don’t consider the massive involvement the alcohol industry has when it comes to mass agriculture. Common ingredients used to produce alcoholic beverages, such as grains, potatoes, grapes and sugar, require a significant amount of water, land and machinery in order to be cultivated. According to the Food Climate Research Network, the alcohol industry alone is responsible for 1.5% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions.
The social relevance of alcohol amongst young people is why most of us won’t even consider taking up dry January
And it doesn’t stop there. The manufacturing process of brewing beer or distilling spirits requires a significant amount of energy, and the transportation of rum from the Caribbean, or wines from Spain add an even greater carbon footprint. The National Beer Wholesalers Association found that on average, 2.8 billion 24-packs of beer were shipped to the US every year.
Waste in the alcohol industry as a result of packaging is another unnecessary impact the planet suffers with. The Carbon Trust found that packaging accounts for 40% of an average beer’s total carbon footprint. Not only is this waste generated by the numerous types of bottles, cans and lids that will contain your favourite drinks, but also from alcohol production in itself, such as the wasted agave pulp in tequila production, which is acidic and therefore contaminates soil and water systems.
Eating less meat and dairy and investing in reusable bags, coffee cups and compost bins has become increasingly popular in the last few years in the midst of the climate crisis. So why has cutting down on alcohol not been encouraged as a way to protect the environment? With alcohol being used as a social lubricant for any occasion, there has been a collective failure in educating people on the environmental implications the alcohol industry. Experts believe that a comprehensive assessment on this would be an impactful way in which people could be persuaded into slowly eliminating alcohol from their lives.
There has been a collective failure in educating people on the environmental implications the alcohol industry
If avoiding the consumption of alcohol completely simply does not appeal to you, there are alternatives available to ensure that your drinking habits are at least eco-friendly. Purchasing alcoholic beverages from environmentally conscious brands, such as Ketel One Vodka or Warner’s Honeybee Gin is a good place to start. Or ditching your Carlings for craft beers is another way to do this, as producers use more sustainable methods rather than large scale production.
There is no denying that the alcohol industry has major consequences for the planet, so with this in mind, why not raise a glass of water to saving the planet and give dry January a go?[related_posts_by_tax columns="4" posts_per_page="4" format="thumbnails" image_size="medium" exclude_terms="34573"]