Booze & Climate

The arrival of COVID has resulted in an uptick of glass recycling and Recycle Utah gets to see it firsthand – don’t worry we won’t tell. It seemed timely to write about the connection of alcohol to our climate, but in a nutshell, let’s just say you decide to hop on the wagon for a week. If so, you’ve just reduced your carbon footprint without even knowing it!

The production and distribution of alcohol can be energy intensive. Hands down liquor is the most environmentally sustainable due to its concentrated form. Then there’s beer, the world’s most popular delight. Its demise, however, is the need to refrigerate – while shipping and storing. Should you choose a bottle or can? In the U.S. the can wins due to its lightweight shipping and the likeliness that it will be recycled verses a bottle.

Then there’s wine. Shipping distance can account for up to 13% of wine’s emissions so be smart with selection. Shipping by sea beats the train and trains beat trucks – so an Oregonian selecting Chilean wine trumps a Kansan and a New Yorker selecting Italian wine trumps a Utahn. Wine bottles add on another 30% to the emissions due to weight. A better alternative is Wine-in-a -box with quality of these wines always improving, they last longer and they’re very recyclable.

Domestic wine-in-a-box is my choice from here on out and only local for beer and spirits. Even Utah now has numerous distilleries- our choices are vast for spirits and beer and Napa Valley is a day away. I’m inclined to think the glass recycling quantities will stay high but hopefully for our earth the number of overseas bottles will be replaced with more local and domestic options – at home and in restaurants.