Craft brewery is a small brewery that produces beer in a traditional (or non mechanized) way. It’s produced on a much smaller scale and is usually local to the area. Craft beer is better for the environment for several reasons: Craft brewers usually buy their ingredients locally, sell locally and engage with the local community. This means their beer isn’t traveling miles just to get to their customers, and neither are their ingredients. The less time spent in transit, the less carbon emissions are produced. So, keeping it local really is better for the environment!
The best part about local breweries is that you can put a face to the name. You can go into the brewery and see who’s running it (not true for bigger beer companies). You can not only get to know the staff, but also ask questions about the beer. If you’re curious about where exactly they source their ingredients, you can just ask. I’d say 9 times out of 10 they will be more than happy to take you back and let you handle, smell and taste the ingredients they use. Beer is essentially just water, grains, hops, and yeast, but odds are your local craft brewery uses high quality ingredients sourced organically and/or locally.
I have a craft brewery in my community (located in Staten Island, New York) called Flagship Brewery. There are several restaurants that sell their beer, even in Manhattan. I could go to the brewery any time to pick up fresh beer, tour the brewery (for only $5 per person), or visit the taproom. The best part is, I know the beer has been brewed locally, making its carbon footprint a lot smaller. That’s because it didn’t travel miles to get to me, and it’s made in smaller batches (which in and of itself creates less waste). This St. Patrick’s Day, I’m going to try to get my hands on some of this beer!
If you want to have a zero waste St. Patrick’s Day, but you’re not sure you have any local breweries near you, do a quick google search. You might be surprised at what pops up! Just swing by and pick up some beer from them, then bring it to any St. Patrick’s Day event you’re going to. Or, if you’re going to the pub (or a restaurant), see if they have any local beer on tap. Give them a try instead of drinking the big name beer brands. You’ll be supporting your local economy. As always, recycle any beer bottles you purchase (or hold onto them and find fun ways to reuse them).
If, for some reason, you do not have a local brewery near you, try to find an organic beer company you can support. Here are 5 organic beers to look for and try (though there are surely more out there).
So, what can you do to help? Simple: To have a zero waste St. Patrick’s Day, use what you already have. Instead of going out and buying a brand new green shirt, stick to what you already have. Comb your closet for some green attire: Have a green dress, or even green socks you could wear? Go for it. Even just the smallest showing of the color will get you in a pinch-free zone. And, to reduce the amount of microfibers you put into the environment, try to avoid washing it after just one use (unless you spill something on it of course).
- Wash on a full load – this will result in less friction between clothes, which produces fewer fibers released.
- Use a colder wash setting – Higher temperatures can release more fibers (and actually damage your clothes).
- Dry spin clothes at low revs – Higher revolutions increases the friction between clothes, which produces more microfibers.
- Place lint in the trash – Don’t wash it down the drain (as this will let it pollute waterways even quicker).
Prepare a meal using farmers market produce
Bike, walk or carpool to the bar/ party/ parade
- If you’re hosting a St. Patrick’s Day party, use reusable cups, plates, and cutlery. Avoid purchasing green disposables: These are all marketing tactics to make you spend more. Instead, use the eating utensils that you already have in your home. You’ll save a buck and waste less. If you’re worried about the mess, just pop everything into the dishwasher (or enlist loved ones to help you clean up).
- If you’re going to a St. Patrick’s Day party, bring along your own set of reusable items (ex: utensils, napkins, and a cup). You can also ask the host if they’d be willing to let you use a reusable plate/cup. Offer to clean it for them yourself by the end of the night and keep your word. I recently did this at a family event for the first time and it went over pretty well! Never be afraid to ask.
- Avoid buying cheap St. Patrick’s Day accessories. These are likely to break and go straight into a landfill. Instead, use any green accessories you already have lying around (perhaps from last year, or ones you use on a daily basis).
- Avoid buying green makeup just to use on this one day. Use whatever makeup you already have instead. The conventional green makeup marketed for St. Patrick’s Day is loaded with questionable ingredients anyway. If you must buy green makeup, look for natural and organic makeup products packaged in reusable containers (Etsy is a good place to search for this).
- If you want to dye something green, try making DIY green dye using spinach. Gather at least 1 cup of spinach, place it in a small saucepan and cover with twice as much water. Place over medium heat and bring to a simmer for one hour. Turn the heat off, then let the water cool to room temperature. Strain the cooled dye into a glass container. You’re ready for coloring!