Is Alcohol Production Sustainable?

While we all might enjoy a little drink here and there, we often don’t think about the impact it has on our environment. It is a beverage that is often forgotten when considering our own impact on the environment and is one that most don’t know much about. It turns out that making alcohol, whether it’s wine, beer, or stronger spirits, has quite a large impact on the environment. Firstly, the footprint of actually growing and harvesting the fruit, vegetables, and plants that are used to make alcohol is quite large. Like many other crops, a lot of pesticides are used to keep the fields free of pests. A lot of water is also used to help these crops grow. Stronger spirits are especially damaging when it comes to water because they produce a lot of water waste. Making liquors such as rum or tequila uses up a lot of water, and during the creation process, that water gets mixed with some of the other ingredients involved, such as molasses, cane juice, and vinazas. This means that the water that later goes back into the ground creates problems with groundwater in the area. The ingredients in the water also make it so that the water can’t really be reused. Wine production uses a lot of energy in the actual harvesting process because of the large amounts of grapes that need to be collected. The wine industry is also a huge contributor to the glass industry as wine is usually sold in glass bottles. One of the biggest parts of alcohol’s carbon footprint actually comes from its distribution. Beer is one of the most common and popular drinks, meaning it has to be distributed all over the world. This creates a huge carbon footprint as delivery methods often use a lot of energy. Similarly, other drinks that are, at times, region specific, such as French champagne or Russian vodka, also have an impact on the environment due to the delivery and shipping needs. Lastly, the fact that alcohol intoxicates people also contributes to the problem. Because you are not sober, it is more likely that packaging, such as beer cans and wine bottles, will not be recycled. The inability to drive can also creates excess waste since most choose other forms of transportation. Overall, alcohol production and consumption is not very sustainable, but there are steps you can take in order to minimize this. Firstly, cutting down your alcohol production in general will decrease this. Recycling your containers and supporting brands that are making effort to be more sustainable is also a great option!