Sustainability is a bit of a buzz word right now. It has infiltrated its way into almost every industry as businesses try to continue to make money while placing less pressure on the planet. Doing our bit for the environment can only be a good thing, but how does it work in the cocktail world?
Think about the waste you create in your own home bar. Bottles, leftover garnishes, maybe other plastic packaging that the garnishes came in. How about those bags of ice, plastic straws and cute umbrellas that seem so essential but only last for one use? And you are one person. In an average bar you can increase that waste a few hundred times a day!
So, what can we do to reduce our impact on the environment in the cocktail world? Here are some suggestions.
Turn Waste into an Infusion
Food waste is one of the biggest issues in landfill. The food doesn’t decompose properly in the airtight conditions, so it releases harmful gases that affect the environment. Next time you find a strawberry that is past its best, or a herb that looks set for the bin, why not look at infusing it in your favourite spirit instead. It might not look pretty in your cocktail but the flavours will help to create an amazing drink. When you have got the most out of your food, then a compost bin is the next best place for it.
You can also do this with leftovers. For example, after you have finished squeezing the juice out of a lemon, you can cut the skin up and add it to your infusing spirit.
Give Wine New Life
This has never happened in my house – it never lasts long enough, but apparently, sometimes wine can be left open too long and go ‘off’. All is not lost in this case, however. Look at turning it into vinegar that will taste amazing in your culinary creations, or syrups for your gin cocktails.
Get Creative with your Garnishes
Ideally, all garnishes should be edible. Lemon peel swirls might look pretty, but they are only good for one use and then they add to your rubbish pile. Instead, use these peels to make oleo-saccharum, or sugared oils. It is so easy to do – simply add your peels to a jar with sugar and leave for 24 hours. The next day, you will have a fruity sugar juice that you can use in your cocktails.
You can also look at dehydrating your garnishes to make them into delicious sweet treats for your cocktails.
The most fail-safe way of reducing your supermarket packaging is to grow your own ingredients. Garnishes and ingredients for infusion are often easily grown in the garden or tended to more carefully indoors. If you don’t have a garden, or affinity for plants, then just look at shopping smaller. Visit your local farm shop and take your own bags – you’ll soon notice the difference in your recycling bin and you’ll be spending your money at a shop that needs it most.
Do a Little Research
When choosing your ingredients, take a look at the brands behind them. Some companies are much more sustainable than others, looking at reducing their carbon footprint as best they can. Others have made no differences to their manufacturing processes. The more transparent a company is, the better you are able to trust them.
Of course, life is all about balance. Making a few small changes to the way you make cocktails can add up to make a big difference. Just do your best!
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