Dry January: The Environmental Benefits of Going Alcohol-Free
Dry January is a popular annual event in which people choose to abstain from alcohol for the month of January. The goal of Dry January is to give people a chance to reset their relationship with alcohol, improve their health, and save money. But did you know that participating in Dry January can also have environmental benefits?
How Does Alcohol Impact the Environment?
The production and consumption of alcohol can have significant environmental impacts. Here are a few ways in which alcohol can harm the environment:
The production and transportation of alcohol generates carbon emissions, which contribute to climate change. According to the Carbon Trust, the global alcohol industry is responsible for 3.5% of all carbon emissions. This includes the emissions from growing and harvesting the raw materials, such as grains and grapes, as well as the energy used in the production and transportation of the final product.
Water is a crucial resource in the production of alcohol. It is used to grow the raw materials, such as grains and grapes, and is also used in the production process itself. According to the Water Footprint Network, it takes an average of 170 liters of water to produce one liter of beer and around 1,000 liters of water to produce one liter of wine. This can put a strain on local water resources, particularly in areas where water is already scarce.
The production and consumption of alcohol generates a significant amount of waste. This includes waste from the raw materials, such as leftover grains and grapes, as well as waste from the production process itself. In addition, the packaging for alcohol, such as glass bottles and aluminum cans, can be difficult to recycle and often ends up in landfills.
Why Dry January Can Help the Environment
So, how can participating in Dry January help the environment? By choosing to abstain from alcohol for the month of January, you can reduce your carbon footprint, save water, and generate less waste. Here are a few specific ways in which Dry January can have a positive impact on the environment:
Reduce carbon emissions
By choosing not to drink alcohol in January, you can reduce the carbon emissions associated with the production and transportation of your favorite alcoholic beverages. According to the Carbon Trust, the average person in the UK consumes around 10 liters of alcohol per year. By abstaining from alcohol for just one month, you can reduce your carbon footprint by around 0.8%.
As mentioned above, it takes a significant amount of water to produce alcohol. By choosing not to drink alcohol in January, you can save water by reducing the demand for alcoholic beverages. For example, if you normally drink one bottle of wine per week, you could save around 1,000 liters of water by abstaining from alcohol for the month of January.
Participating in Dry January can also help reduce waste by reducing the demand for alcoholic beverages and their packaging. This includes the waste from the raw materials, such as leftover grains and grapes, as well as the waste from the production process and packaging materials. By choosing not to drink alcohol for the month of January, you can help reduce the amount of waste generated by the alcohol industry.
Other Ways to Make Your Alcohol Consumption More Sustainable
If you choose to participate in Dry January but still want to enjoy alcohol in a more sustainable way, there are several things you can do to make your alcohol consumption more environmentally friendly:
Choose organic and biodynamic alcohol
Organic and biodynamic alcohol is produced using farming practices that prioritize the health of the soil, water, and air. These practices often result in fewer carbon emissions, less water usage, and less waste. Look for labels such as “organic” or “biodynamic” to find more sustainable options.
Choose locally produced alcohol
Supporting locally produced alcohol can help reduce the carbon emissions associated with transportation. Look for labels that say “locally produced” or “locally sourced” to find alcohol made in your region.
Choose alcohol with recyclable packaging
Choose alcohol packaged in materials that can be easily recycled, such as glass or cardboard. Avoid single-use plastic packaging whenever possible.
Support companies with sustainable practices
Look for companies that prioritize sustainability in their production processes, such as reducing water usage, minimizing waste, and offsetting carbon emissions. By supporting these companies, you can help drive demand for more sustainable alcohol production practices.
Alcohol Brands that are Helping the Environment
Many alcohol brands including the ones listed below are certified B Corps. By choosing B Corp-certified brands, you can support companies that are committed to sustainability and social responsibility.
This brand, which is owned by outdoor clothing company Patagonia, offers a range of organic, biodynamically grown beers and wines. The company also uses recycled materials in its packaging and works to minimize its carbon emissions.
New Belgium Brewing
This brewery, which is based in Colorado, is known for its commitment to sustainability. The company uses wind power to offset its carbon emissions, has a zero waste goal, and uses recycled materials in its packaging.
This Vermont-based cidery uses locally grown apples to make its ciders and uses biodynamic farming practices. The company also uses recycled materials in its packaging and works to minimize its carbon emissions.
This trade group represents small and independent craft breweries in the United States. The association works to promote sustainable practices among its member breweries and has developed a sustainability manual to help breweries reduce their environmental impact.
Participating in Dry January can have a positive impact on the environment by reducing carbon emissions, saving water, and reducing waste.
If you choose to continue consuming alcohol after Dry January, there are several ways you can make your alcohol consumption more sustainable, such as choosing organic and biodynamic options, supporting locally produced alcohol, and choosing recyclable packaging.
By making more environmentally conscious choices, you can enjoy your favorite alcoholic beverages while also helping to protect the planet.