When it comes to selecting spirits, even the most environmentally considerate people tend to compromise their values. But why? We think this could be attributed to the limited knowledge and awareness about the efforts of spirit producers who prioritise sustainability in their distilleries.
It's crucial to recognise why sustainability is important in the spirit industry and why this space cannot be exempt from the global shift toward better practices. This short article intends to shed some light on the industry and how one brand in particular in pioneering change in this space.
Why is Environmental Sustainability Important in the Spirit Industry?
The spirits industry significantly impacts the environment through its production process, packaging, and transportation. Distilling alcohol requires vast amounts of water and energy while generating wastewater and greenhouse gas emissions. The use of non-renewable resources, such as fossil fuels and virgin materials, for packaging and transportation exacerbates the industry's carbon footprint.
The sugar cane industry in particular has been surrounded by concerns about human rights violations and health risks associated with pesticide exposure for workers, highlighting the need for more sustainable and ethical practices in its cultivation.
Why is Social Sustainability Important in the Spirit Industry?
The spirits industry has social implications that shouldn’t be ignored. The industry can provide economic benefits for communities; however, it can also create inequalities, particularly in developing countries where the industry may exploit cheap labour. Irresponsible alcohol consumption can lead to negative social consequences, making it vital for spirits brands to promote moderation and provide clear labelling of alcohol content.
But spirit brands can be a force for positive social outcomes. Many distilleries now support local communities and promote sustainable agriculture practices by hiring locally and sourcing ingredients from nearby farms. Some distilleries donate profits to charitable causes or engage in community outreach programs, demonstrating their commitment to social responsibility.
An Introduction to Montanya Rum - A Force for Good in the Spirits Industry:
Montanya Rum is an excellent example of a brand that places a high emphasis on environmental and social responsibility, evident through its seven verified ecolabels.
The brand, originating in a 100-year-old building in Silverton, Colorado, has grown to three facilities totalling 5,800 square feet in Crested Butte. Montanya Rums have won almost every major award in the spirits world, including gold and double gold medals, Best in Class designations, USA Rum of the Year, and Craft Distillery of the Year.
As a certified B-Corp, Montanya's commitment to sustainability can be seen across the board, from its sourcing of materials to its packaging. The company uses locally sourced ingredients whenever possible, including water from the Rocky Mountains. Montanya partners with farmers who use sustainable and regenerative practices. Montanya Rum's practice of biodigesting all of their company's biowaste is another environmentally-friendly solution allowing them to efficiently break down organic material into biogas and fertilizer, reducing greenhouse gas emissions and minimising waste sent to landfills.
Montanya Rum also takes action to minimise the environmental footprint of its packaging, using cradle to cradle certified glass bottles, and all cardboard and paper waste is recycled. The labels are printed on FSC-certified paper using soy-based inks, and biodegradable shrink wrap made from corn is used. Through its partnership with rePurpose Global, Montanya is also certified plastic neutral, meaning it helps to finance the removal of an amount of plastic equivalent to that used in operations.
Montanya's commitment to sustainability extends to its employees and community. The company pays its employees higher than a living wage and offers health insurance, paid vacation, and other benefits. Montanya also supports local non-profit organisations through its charitable giving program and regularly volunteers in the community.
Change is possible
While the spirits industry still has a long way to go, distilleries like Montanya Rum are demonstrating that it's possible to run a thriving spirit brand while prioritising people and the planet. By implementing environmentally friendly practices and social initiatives, Montanya Rum has shown that spirits can be a force for good with the right intentions.
As individuals, we can play a role in supporting these efforts by seeking out and choosing brands that align with our values. Continued education and awareness can work towards a future where spirits are not only enjoyable (when consumed responsibly) but also a catalyst for positive change.
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