In many ways, it’s astonishing that it’s taken so long for the environment to become mainstream news. You know. What with it being the planet that we live on, and all.
There has been a noticeable shift in recent times that has taken ‘environmental issues’ from being somewhat optional, to the hot topic on almost everybody’s lips. By way of example, some familiar, single-use plastics – drinking straws and cotton wool buds are among them – will be banned from 2020.
Given that plastic has been found at the bottom of the most inaccessible place on Earth – the 7-mile deep Mariana Trench in the Western Pacific – it’s not a moment too soon.
Eco-Warriors Who Were Way Ahead of the Curve
Some people will remember a couple of decades ago or more when environmental campaigners – a few of whom took up temporary accommodation in trees and sang the praises of wind farms and the like – were viewed with a sort of benevolent scepticism.
Far from being eccentric activists in search of a cause, those ecologically minded individuals proved to be the grass roots of an authoritative movement that has finally captured the attention of the world it’s trying to save.
So the message has landed: we all need to do our bit.
Calculate Your Carbon Footprint
Working out your carbon footprint is a good place to start. There are numerous online calculators to help assess whether the way you travel, heat your home and the kind of purchases you make is producing more or less carbon than the average person.
Carbon dioxide is one of the main greenhouse gases: the harmful emissions produced by the way we live on an individual, industrial and global scale.
Many of us recycle on a regular basis. Some people take the bike to work. Others become vegetarian. Millions of us are trying to do better, but could we do more? Have you ever thought about how alcohol production and consumption impacts on the environment?
You might be teetering on the edge of a decision to commit to OYNB, or you may welcome another reason to feel pretty good about the wider implications of your OYNB journey. Whichever applies to you, ditching alcohol has a planet-friendly impact that contributes to lowering your personal carbon footprint.
Why Alcohol is Bad For the Environment
In 2007, a working paper study report by The Food Climate Research Network (the FCRN) found that alcohol production, storage and consumption was deemed to be responsible for approximately 1.5% of the UK’s total greenhouse gas emissions.
There are insufficient equivalent studies to date, so it’s perhaps more tangible to look at figures on a carbon emissions per person basis. In 2018, the FCRN found that the manufacture, packaging and transportation of alcohol in Sweden produced a carbon footprint of 52 kg CO2 per person.
But what are the components of alcohol’s carbon footprint? It’s a case of following the journey from growing the crop, all the way to being sold; served up in a glass and the packaging discarded. The steps break down roughly into these categories:
- Growing of key ingredients, including fertiliser and watering requirements
- Use of any herbicides and pesticides, and the potential impact on biodiversity
- The considerable heat/energy required for the distillation/brewing process
- Packaging needed: bottles, cans, kegs etc.
- Refrigeration/temperature controlled storage
- Transportation and logistics
- Service-end storage and refrigeration
- Disposal of packaging that cannot be/is not recycled
Of course, the argument can be levelled that thousands of foodstuffs these days involve a hefty carbon footprint. The rejoinder to that is that it’s hard to argue that alcohol is essential to survival. The land use and farming methods could be diverted to something much more worthwhile.
Can Alcohol Production Ever Be Clean and Green?
Companies want to be seen to be doing the right thing these days and are keen to polish their eco-credentials wherever possible. The global alcohol manufacturers are looking at ways in which the production process can be made more sustainable, but right now, the inescapable fact remains that quitting alcohol is just as good for the planet as it is for you.
OYNB: Good For You, Good For the Planet
Countless people cite OYNB as a game changer in terms of their wellbeing and happiness. The thought that putting the brakes on drinking alcohol can also help us to reduce our carbon footprint is a persuasive one.
We all want future generations to inherit a greener, healthier planet. What many of us are waking up to is that every tweak of our lifestyle, every conscious effort to do better, really does make a difference.
OYNB is brilliant for better health, self-esteem and getting more out of life. You might about to embark on your journey or perhaps you’re some way along the OYNB path. Either way, take your next step forward and enjoy the fact that in doing so, you’re leaving a smaller footprint on our beautiful planet.