There are few things as nice as having a glass of wine in the mountains of Chile after a day-long hike, or enjoying a cold beer on the hot beach. However, we live in a changing world – one that cares about the environment, and often, partaking in such refreshments is not always the most environmentally conscious thing to do.
Luckily for those who choose to indulge in alcoholic beverages like beer and wine, there are ways to reduce the impact of such drinks on the Earth, and they can be as easy as choosing a certain brand of either beer or wine to accompany an exotic meal.
As discussed in this article by experienced greenhouse gas engineer and environmentalist Pablo Päster, what needs to be taken into account more than anything else when selecting something to drink is how far it needs to travel to go from the brewery or vineyard to our dinner tables.
With this in mind, the most damaging aspects of alcohol are not the ways in which it is produced. Instead, where greenhouse emissions begin to rise is in the method of transportation. Here, Päster makes it clear that buying local brands is the way to go – be it beer or wine, local brands do not need to travel nearly as much to get to their respective destinations as those brought in from exotic parts of the world.
In terms of the material used to produce each beverage, it appears that wine has the upper hand. Grapes to make wine are usually grown on site, making the transportation one that has little impact on greenhouse emissions. Beer, on the other hand, needs barley which is usually shipped from somewhere else around the globe. Post-production, beer seems to lose again with its smaller serving size and thicker bottles, dedicating more room and weight to a part of the product that cannot be consumed.
Beer enthusiasts should not lose hope quite yet, however – cans provide a cheaper, more environmentally sound alternative to the traditional ‘longneck’ bottle, and despite its questionable reputation, boxed and bagged wines also reduce the consequences brought on by traditional glass bottles.
In the end, the ultimate decision rests upon the variables – organic, local, lightly-packaged alcohol wins, whether that alcohol comes in the form of beer or wine. As with all forms of alcohol, its environmental impact is most profound when enjoyed responsibly and in moderation.
[ Image: 15DegreesC]