One of the biggest trends in bars this year has less to do with the cocktails they are serving and more to do with how they are serving them. The push is to create a zero waste environment. But what does that mean?
Well, the movement is all about creating an environment is that is not only sustainable but also one that reduces the venues environmental footprint.
Now you may think that your home bar doesn’t create much of an impact, but between single-use plastics and food waste, there is a lot that home bartenders can do to make their own little corner of the drinks world far more sustainable.
Now some of these suggestions might be things that you’re already doing. And if so, that’s great. But if not, slowly implementing these changes will make more of an impact than you think. Whether it’s simply swapping out paper coasters for cloth or glass ones, reducing water use, or ensuring that all of the citrus is used, there are some surprisingly easy methods to adopt.
Here are a few tips to get you started.
Ditch The Straws
Let’s face it, plastic straws and plastic drink stirrers are incredibly useful, especially when it comes to tall drinks, but single-use plastics are an environmental nightmare. It is believed that by 2050, the amount of plastic in our oceans will (pound for pound) outweigh fish.
Changing over your plastic straws for paper, metal or glass is a small but amazingly simple way to help prevent millions of plastic straws from ending up in the oceans or landfill.
If you’re looking for a slightly different alternative to those evil plastic straws, we love the idea of a Kickstarter campaign earlier last year, where a company called Loliwarecreated edible straws that are as biodegradable as a banana peel. Drink giant Pernod Ricard was so impressed with the product that they have partnered with the edible bioplastics company.
Another alternative is wheat straws which are 100% biodegradable and compostable. A Melbourne company, Loola Loves, makes their wheat straws from natural wheat stems, which are cut from the dried wheat shafts after the wheat has been harvested. The straws are non-toxic and best of all, non-porous, which means that they don’t become soggy like paper straws. The company also donations AUD$0.50 from the sale of each box of Wheat Straws to The Sea Turtle Foundation.
You could, of course, decide to ditch straws altogether. I know, a radical idea but oddly, you’ll probably find you don’t miss them.
Make The Most Of Your Citrus
There are very few cocktails that don’t use citrus in some form or other but its probably fair to say that we often don’t use our Lemons and Limes to their full potential. Sure you may juice the hell out them but once you’ve done that it’s hard to get at all the goodness in the rind.
It’s a good idea to try peeling twists and other garnishes before juicing, with any leftover rind being used to make Limoncello or Limecello, much less flavoursome additions to salads and stews. And if you still have half of the fruit left, why not cut the rest into slices and dehydrate for future garnishes. Or take inspiration from the Trash Tiki folks and make a citrus stock.
Hit the Farmer’s Market
Drinking seasonally is one of the easiest ways to lower your environmental impact. If a product doesn’t need to be transported long distances or refrigerated for long periods, then the impact of its environmental footprint is lowered. And drinking seasonally can be fun.
Mixing up recipes with only what is easily available can broaden your choices and create some astounding flavour discoveries. But if you still want a little touch of summer in your winter cocktails, why not take advantage of the bounty of fruits and create shrubs from the excess. Shrubs can add a nice bite to your drinks and if properly stood can last you through the winter.
Support Local Makers
With the recent spike in micro-distilleries, it’s easier than ever to buy locally. In the same way as the footprint of non-seasonal produce can be high, the transportation involved in getting some spirits into your hands can also have a high impact. Sure, there are some spirits that are regional, such as Cognac and Tequila but that does mean that there isn’t a local producer making a pretty fine Brandy, Eau De Vie or even an Agave spirit somewhere near you. Sometimes it’s all about doing a bit of research.
And that goes for mixers as well. Imported Tonic Waters or artisanal colas might be great, but you’ll probably easily be able to find some local producers that are doing some amazing stuff as well. It comes down to being mindful and asking ‘How was this made?’ How did it get to me?’ and ‘How far did it have to travel?’
Another consideration is packaging. Sure it might look amazing but does your bottle of whiskey really need layers of packaging that will simply be thrown away once it’s delivered?
Don’t leave taps running or start dishwashers unless they’re full, are simple ways to conserve water, but it’s not just running water that can be the issue. Ice is another factor that contributes to water waste in cocktails.
Why not think about prebatching cocktails in bottles and storing them in the fridge or freezer. Preplanning your drinks this way will not only save you time but will ensure that your cocktail is chilled, without having to use any ice.
Another major consideration is actually making ice at home rather than buying bagged ice. Not only will the quality of your ice be better but it will decrease the number of plastic bags going into the trash.
It really only takes a few simple changes to make your home bar much more environmentally friendly. If you just spend a minute to think about what you are buying, what you are throwing out and how things can be reused, you’ll not only create a better bar but hopefully a better world as well.