Save The Earth. Lay Off the Sauce.

By Jeff Forester 05/04/11

Lower your alcohol footprint: The green side of going sober.

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Don't be an earth hater.
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Many of us have taken the time to consider the benefits of sobriety--better health, better relationships, better finances.  But a better planet? As it turns out, there is a green side to going sober.

Every Earth Day, organizations put out the call to, “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle,” and we dutifully stuff our reusable grocery sacks under the kitchen sink, along with the baking soda-based scrubbing powder, the spray bottles of distilled vinegar, and the earth worm bins. Green Day organizers expound the many ways to go green; ride instead of drive, insulate, unplug, buy low watt incandescent, eat whole foods, plant a garden. But this year, one green group took a different tack: They urged everyone to lay off the sauce. Treehugger.com noted that the production of alcoholic beverages typically requires a lot more resources than more organic bottled brews. The major beers and wines use ingredients made from large-scale, chemically intensive industrial agriculture, and the grains and hops are shipped long distances. The bottling, refrigeration, and distribution all require substantial energy inputs. A better solution is to indulge in the local organic microbreweries in towns like Minneapolis, Seattle, or Northern California's oldest micro-pub, Eel River Brewing, which celebrated Earth Day this year with tasty organic offerings.

The greenest option? Sobriety. Go green, stay sober, and drink tap water--most of it is as pure, if not more pure, than the bottled stuff, at a fraction of the environmental impact required to process and ship alcoholic thirst quenchers.

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Jeff Forester is a writer in Minnesota. His book, Forest for the Trees: How Humans Shaped the North Woods, an ecological history of his state's famed Boundary Waters, came out in paperback in 2009. Jeff is the Executive Director of MN Lakes and Rivers Advocates MLR and you can follow him on Twitter.

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