There are a lot of ways for us to cut back on our carbon footprints at home, but beverage selection is not usually the first place we look. Selecting local, organic, all natural products seems the obvious choice, but there is more to it than that.
Aside from pressing your own cider, brewing your own beer, or squeezing your own lemonade, there are not a lot of ways to create a truly carbon footprint-free beverage, so one must do all they can to cut back. An important way to do so that can have a large impact is choosing your beverage based on its container, and aluminum cans may just be the new green.
Sarah Benson of Ink recently pointed out some of the benefits of choosing the canned option of a popular beverage, beer. The most important point? Aluminum weighs twelve times less than glass, which saves in a number of ways including transportation.
Oskar Blues Brewery in Colorado is famous for offering quality, craft beer in a can.
Slate.com and beeriety took the benefits of going with cans even further. In addition to being lighter, cans stack more easily, which increases their transportation and storage efficiency. Slate pointed out that although creating pure aluminum takes more energy than creating pure glass, the average beer can contains 40% recycled materials versus 20-30% for the average bottle. Additionally, you save 96% on average per ton of recycled aluminum verses 26% per ton of recycled glass.
There are post-production benefits to cans as well. Approximately 45% of all cans are recycled compared to only 25% of bottles. Aluminum from cans can be reused for a number of different things, including cars and other manufacturers, while 90% of all recycled glass goes back into bottles and similar containers. This means recycled aluminum is far more desirable. Even if the bottles were refilled, they’d have to be refilled at least 20 times and travel a distance of no more than 2,600 miles to be more efficient than cans recycled at a rate of 42%.
“But glass-bottled beverages are just so much better! How will I get my Perrier and craft beer?” you might say. That, though, is not entirely true. A number of high quality drinks are offered in cans, from gourmet sodas like San Pellegrino to an increasingly growing number of craft beers. You can even purchase quality canned wine. Brewers and manufacturers are now even able to coat and insulate cans to prevent that “metallic” flavor that consumers so often complain about. Additionally, sunlight has been known to have a damaging, “skunking” effect (especially with beer). Putting a beverage in a can completely eliminates this possibility.
So, the next time you head to the store, think about all the ways you can cut your carbon footprint with your beverage selections. Buy locally, buy all-natural, and don’t forget to buy canned.