growler 1While beer drinkers are celebrating the fine new craft brews available in the valley’s three recently opened craft breweries, sustainability advocates are also celebrating the fact the local brew is now sold over the counter in reusable brown jugs the industry calls Growlers. So instead of brewing industry grade beer in distant places, bottling it in “recyclable” containers manufactured from energy intensive aluminum or silica and consuming more energy to ship it to distant markets, local craft breweries cater to the many nuances of individual batches of custom brews. The returnable containers of industrial beer are “Recyclable” but the environmental value of such recycling is largely an illusion as returned bottles are simply ground into small pieces and used mostly for sand blasting and aggregate for asphalt roads. A small amount is melted down and spun into insulating bats. All the energy that went into gathering the silica and manufacturing and transporting the bottles is lost.
Rather than being recycled into glass chips, the new brown jugs of craft breweries are reused—brought back time after time for refilling. Could this be the beginning of a paradigm shift away from the throwaway society to a new environmentally friendly standard where containers of all kinds are not thrown away under the pretext of a term like “recycling” and are, instead refilled. Imagine the impact that would have on energy use, on pollution and—especially—on our view of generating waste as the goal of our consumer economy!
BTW the craft brews of the Comox Valley are great tasting, cover a wide spectrum of tastes and are served in relaxing, conversation inviting environments.
PS The Activist would be a great place to post notes on reader identified sustainability related products, practices, services and events that you know of in the Comox Valley.