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Top Five Ways Beer Can Save the World

By Staff | Apr 8, 2008

“The success of the consumer revolt is important not just to beer drinkers but to everybody who is concerned about the quality of life. If it can be done with beer, it can be done with other things. We do not have to behave as accountants and economists think we ought to behave. You can stand in the way of progress.”— Richard Boston, “Beer and Skittles”

As the wise Homer J. Simpson once said, beer is “the cause of, and solution to, all of life’s problems.” Of course, this is also the man who said, “doughnuts, is there anything they can’t do?” We identify with Homer, though. We’re not, the lot of us here at Graffiti, really thinking men — at least when it comes to our beer. If it tastes good, we’ll drink it.

So with that said, here are some suggestions from those who have thought about that sweet nectar and its role in our lives and how it can lead to the saving of our planet. Most of these come from Christopher Mark O’Brien’s legendary book, “Fermenting Revolution: How to Drink Beer and Save the World.” Below are only five of his suggestions. For the rest of his 24 tips, and a fascinating history of beer and its role in a community, pick up the book.

Buy Local Beer. As O’Brien says, “According to the Brewer’s Association, the majority of Americans now live within 10 miles of a brewery. Simply put, buying locally-made beer is better for the environment and helps to strengthen local communities.” As Cynthia Barstow suggests in “The Eco-Foods Guide,” Americans now spend more for advertising and packaging than we pay the farmers to produce the food. Also, go to the local brewpub and drink to your heart’s content instead of buying your beer from a store. Better yet, walk or bike there. Not only do you eliminate the fumes from your car, but drinking draft beer — again, preferably local — also eliminates the packaging and the need to recycle beer bottles and cans. Most brewpubs don’t even keg their beer, instead dispensing it straight from the tank to the beer glass to your mouth. Talk about efficient.

Brew Your Own Beer. It’s fun, highly efficient and builds a sense of community as you rope your friends into joining you.

Keep Your Fridge Stocked. A relatively full refrigerator, O’Brien says, is more efficient than a relatively empty one “because the cold mass of products helps maintain the temperature when the door is open.” However, don’t keep the fridge overstocked, because the fridge will have to work harder “to maintain proper temperature. As long as you maintain a moderate beer-drinking diet, it shouldn’t be much of a challenge to keep the stock rotating.”

Buy a Keg for Your Next Party. Kegs, O’Brien says, “are far more packaging efficient than 165 individually packaged beers (almost seven cases, which is how much a standard half-barrel keg holds), and much cheaper too. Many local breweries also offer kegs of their concoctions. Don’t forget to have your friends bring their favorite beer glasses, or at least buy disposable cups made from biodegradable, compostable cornstarch. Check out ecoproducts.com for some of these.

Don’t Buy Your Beer at Wal-Mart. As O’Brien points out, The Multinational Monitor ranked Wal-Mart as one of the 10 worst corporations of 2004. This is because, according to a 2004 report issued by Rep. George Miller, (D-Calif.), one 200-employee Wal-Mart store may result in a cost to federal taxpayers of $420,750 per year — or about $2,103 per employee. These costs include “free and reduced lunches for 50 Wal-Mart families, Section 8 housing assistance, federal tax credits and deductions for low-income families and federal contributions to health insurance programs for low-income children.” Also according to statistics, the average income drops in communities immediately following the opening of a Wal-Mart. So, skip Wal-Mart and support your local beer retailer.


Contact Justin at jmcintosh@graffitiwv.com