Well, Earth Day is here. Today is a day when we can look at our actions and how they affect the Earth, and hopefully minimize those effects. I thought, what better way to help than to shed some light on the ways we as homebrewers can do some good and minimize our impacts.
First step is to look at the waste you are producing. The easiest waste to identify is spent grains and used hops. Spent grains shouldn’t go into the trash. One way to use these grains is to bake bread. Enter “spent grain bread recipe” into any search engine and you will find a long list of recipes from home brewers using their spent grains to make breads. If you live in a more rural setting, be generous and offer them to a local farmer. They can be used as feed for livestock. If nothing else, they can find their way into a compost. As for hops, the compost pile is the best solution.
Another major source of waste is water. If you use a wort chiller, I am sure you’ve watched gallons of steaming water flow down the drain in the name of quick cooling. Many wort chillers have hose fitting on the outlet. Connect a hose to this and fill an empty bucket or carboy, this water can be used to clean the mess you’ve made brewing your batch.
There has to be more we can do. This idea I’ve stolen from the anti-bottled water movement. If you’re like me, the idea of saving any more bottles for homebrew passed long ago, when your entire closet was full of cases of empty bottles. I do my best to recycle, but recycling isn’t 100% efficient, and even then, some bottles find their ways into trash cans. So why not take the bottle out of the equation? Go to your local breweries and fill up growlers of your favorite ale. It will be up t you to drink the half gallon of beer in 2-3 days, but I am sure you’re up to the challenge. Now you’ve saved a 6-pack of bottles and shown support for the local brewery, you should feel twice as good about your purchase.
The final step you can take is to flex your muscle as a consumer. Support breweries who employ sustainable practices. Anderson Valley, Eel River, New Belgium and Block 15 are just a few that come to mind. Reward their efforts to keep this planet green by sending some money their way. There are many other breweries out there with a committment to the environment, so make sure to find out about your favorite brewery, and if need by, send them your thoughts and encourage them to do what it takes.
I hope this post was at least a little helpful, and if nothing else, gets you to think about trying some of these ideas. Have others? Share with everyone, because I know I am looking for as many wasy as I can to be a little more green.
Update: Well I’m an idiot. Earth Day is tomorrow, April 22nd. Today is the 21st. Well, I posted this a day early because everyday should be Earth Day. Yeah, that’s why.