Sustainability in Beer

Green business features have been gaining popularity recently. Firstly, let’s start off by explaining what a green business feature is; a company that embraces sustainable operations, products and materials, labor, and shipping methods. The business I chose to focus my blog on is New Belgium Brewing Company. 

In 1998, a young couple biked through Belgium. This trip sparked inspiration to bring Belgium brewing tradition to their home town in Colorado. They opened the first wind powered brewing company in Colorado. Their brewing company expanded and grew. By the summer of 2003, they decided to be a part of the change. They created an in -house sustainability department, becoming a Certified B-Corp and 1% for the planet member. In their efforts, they installed solar panels, created electricity from waste water, and reused heat for brewing to reduce energy waste. In 2009, they created at the time the largest private solar array in their home state of Colorado. They focused on their product’s lifetime in order to choose their perfect packaging. They chose to use glass bottles rather than cans to cut down on emissions. They partnered with the Glass Recycling Coalition to make their bottles, further reducing their waste. After more years of trying to perfect sustainable brewing,their beer Fat Tire became the first American certified carbon neutral beer. 

Since the owners and founders discovered this type of brewing on bikes, they have supported biking through their whole career. They have donated over nine million dollars to bike advocacy groups across the United States, donated part of their land in Asheville to act as a biking trail, and host bike races in their Fort Collins brewing location. 

The owners and founders of New Belgium Brewing are members of the Business for Innovation Climate and Energy Policy, along with being on the board of the We Are Still In movement. I chose this business because of their values: we inspire social and environmental change. These values personally spoke to me. While doing our litter sweep, one of the most common items my group found was alcohol cans, bottles, and caps. I love that they incorporate both social and environmental values. Drinking is often found in social settings. By them producing as little waste as possible, it not only reduces waste but benefits people. 

Greenwashing can be seen in many different organizations. It provides a false sense about a company’s environmental standing. Throughout my research on New Belgium Brewing, I could not find any signs of greenwashing. I believe that the couple that started this company truly believes in their values.On their website, they have a section completely dedicated to their sustainability. They have different tabs based on each sustainable thing they have been a part of. From biking, packaging, distribution, heating, along with so much more. Their efforts are very wide scale. They have lost thousands of dollars of profit in order to reduce waste. If you are interested in this company, I highly recommend checking out their website. They have a ton of information on each process. I believe that this is one of the companies that is doing good for the world.

Everyday Plastic by Daniel Webb

When thinking of plastic the words that often come to mind are dirty, garbage, and gross. When thinking of the word art the words that come to mind are beautiful, moving, and thought-provoking. So how can these two opposite things come together cohesively? Daniel Webb manages to do just that. Daniel is an 36 year old artist that was born and raised on the Southeast coast of England. One day while he was on the beach, he saw seaweed wrapped in plastic. He began to think if the plastic on this beach once belonged to him. This sparked Webb to start his plastic journey.

 Daniel Webb states that recycling was not easily accessible to him. He would have to take his recycling to a facility, rather than them picking it up. Webb decided to keep all of the plastic he used for a whole year. Webb began his journey on January 1, 2017 and by New Years Eve he had collected over 22,80 litres of plastic, or 4,490 items of plastic. He washed every piece of plastic and stored it in his home. With this plastic, he created a mural called, “Everyday Plastic”. 


The most common items Daniel Webb accumulated were hygiene, food packaging, and cleaning products. These items are all used almost everyday.  

While researching different types of art made of plastic, something about Daniel Webb’s stuck out to me. Most of the other artists I looked at, collected trash from other areas rather than use their own. Webb used his own plastic and it was very moving to me. It shows that he is not perfect, and that you don’t have to be either. The purpose of this mural is to represent the overproduction and overconsumption of plastic. Daniel Webb believes that recycling will not do much when there is this much plastic being produced every second. He describes plastic production as an “epidemic”. 

This journey was not easy for him, it took extreme willpower to not just throw the trash away. He was extremely transparent, which made the art more enticing to me. He isn’t judgemental about not fully being plastic free, he goes into detail about how hard being 100% plastic free is. Being plastic free is almost impossible in today’s way of life. Everything from food to hygiene to shoes are wrapped in plastic. It’s not about being perfect, it’s about trying your hardest. 

This mural is currently on display at Dreamland, which is located in a seaside town in England where Webb currently resides. You are able to get close to the mural and see what each piece is made of. This piece has moved me more than I thought it would have. I am beyond excited to see what else Daniel Webb will produce!


Product Life of Feminine Hygiene

As a consumer, one of the hardest products for me to find plastic free alternatives is feminine hygiene products. This product is a necessity to me, and many others. Women in the United States alone spend around 2.8 billion dollars on femine products. Firstly, let me explain how tampons were created. It dates all the way back to Cleopatra, using natural products rolled into the tampon shape. Women created their own out of their living rooms, using cloth materials. In 1933, the first applicator was created, made completely out of cardboard. It became a patented product and became a household staple. Soon the tampons and applicators were changed. The cardboard was switched to a plastic material. 

Tampons today are made of a mixture of cotton and rayon. Rayon is a fiber that comes from cellulose, created from wood. Rayon alone takes 250 megajoules to produce 2.2 kilograms. This blend of fibers goes through a rigorous process to create. Outside of the cotton and rayon layer, a lining of synthetic fibers surround the interior. The string is connected inside of the tampon which allows you to take it out. This string is also made of a synthetic material blend. The tampon is then enclosed in a synthetic plastic applicator. Once the tampon is done in production, it is then placed inside of a plastic wrapper. These items are used once and disposed of. 


In the first step of production, cotton is produced. The production of cotton is not sustainable. It takes high amounts of water and energy to farm. Oftentimes, causing the farmers to work in unsafe conditions. The rayon is created using toxic chemicals and is then strung into fibers. The packaging process is extremely harmful to the environment. The plastic is created using raw materials and fossil fuels. These production plants fill the air with high amounts of dangerous emissions. They are then shipped out to different stores. They have different methods of transportation such as trucks, ships, trains, and airplanes. All of these methods damage the environment. 

On average, women use 240 tampons a year. Menstrual products are considered to be medical waste so it is hard to track how much ends in landfills. Experts guess that there are around 20 billion sitting in the landfills. Sadly, the lack of oxygen in landfills makes it extremely difficult for this product to decompose. The fibers are very dense, and while in production, they go through a process that leads to the fibers being bleached. This process of bleaching adds more time in the decomposition process. It takes around 500 years for them to fully decompose, including the applicator and wrapper. 

Unfortunately, it is hard to reduce the impacts of this product. They are not recyclable once they are used due to the fact that they are contaminated. There are many other options if you want to cut down on your plastic waste. Most tampons will still contain an amount of plastic, but cardboard applicators are a great alternative. They are wrapped in a paper wrapper instead of plastic.  


These are products that are necessities and most people do not realize just how much plastic, energy, and waste goes into each tampon. I hope that in the future these big companies will come out with more eco-friendly options for the consumers.


Easy Alternatives

Before the creation of plastic, what did everyone use? Sustainable materials were the everyday normal, such as clay, glass, tree gum were used. Why can’t we go back to that way of life? Living plastic free in today’s society is almost impossible. People oftentimes see living sustainably as expensive, but there are options that are free. I currently am not using plastic straws or plastic utensils when getting food to-go. It is as easy as saying you don’t need any utensils. Along with giving up plastic utensils, I have not been using to-go bags and or plastic grocery bags. When I know I am going to need a bag, I bring one with me. It is extremely simple and I am making a change, while doing something so easy. When carrying groceries, the sustainable bags are easier to carry than the plastic alternatives, as well as hold more items. 

Shopping has been one of the hardest parts of using less plastic. Almost every product in every aisle is wrapped in some sort of plastic. The cheaper alternative is the item wrapped in plastic. Living sustainably may not benefit you financially, it does make you a part of something much bigger. It not only makes the world a better place, but puts you directly in the middle of change. Unfortunately, as a college student I am limited on my budget and unable to purchase certain sustainable items. As much as I would love to be able to purchase these products, I am practicing sustainable techniques that I have worked into my everyday life. 

Unfortunately, there are some plastic products that I cannot live without. For example, there aren’t many options for femine care products that are sustainable. I have done research on sustainable products, and sadly none of them will work for me. Hopefully in the future, there will be more options available for women. 

When completing my first blog, I counted how much plastic I used in a day. While almost everything I touched was made of plastic, I noticed that cleaning products, beauty/care, and groceries were the most plastic wrapped. Sadly, these are the items that most people use the most in their daily lives. In Beth Terry’s book, she explains a shopping checklist to help with sustainable shopping. Below I have composed a list of alternative products that do not contain plastic. 

Cleaning products:


Meyers hand soap (3 pack) Blue Land hand soap (3 pack)
Bounty Paper towels  Grove Collaborative bamboo paper towels 
Germ X hand sanitizer  Earth Hero hand sanitizer 


Wet Wipes Eco by naty aloe wet wipes
Pantene shampoo Captain Blankenship sea shine shampoo
Dove deodorant  All Good natural deodorant 


Grocery products:

Kettle brand sea salt potato chips Christie’s Chips sea salt potato chips
Bare banana chips Zero’s banana chips 
Mission flour tortillas  La Princesita flour tortillas  

Since taking this class, it has made me realize just how much plastic I use. It isn’t something I am proud of, but I am learning and overcoming the obstacles of living a more plastic free lifestyle. My advice for someone wanting to live plastic free is to start small. While these changes seem minute, if enough people use a little less plastic everyday, there would be a huge change. It is as simple as filling up your water bottle instead of grabbing a plastic water bottle. It is these small changes that create a big impact. We can do it.


Plastic is Surrounding us.


I always thought that others were the issue when it came to the amount of plastic waste, until I counted the amount of plastic I used in my daily life. From single use products to reusable plastic products. The first time when just counting the products I used, I counted 61 products in just one day alone. Granted, there most likely a ton of plastic that I missed. While carrying my bag around, I kept complaining about how heavy it was. Without even realizing it, I saw the problem. Around halfway through the day, the bag was completely overflowing with plastic items. It had gotten so full that I had to get another bag… And that bag filled up too. These items are oftentimes not even given a second thought when thrown away. 



Disposable face mask


Tooth bush 

Shampoo and conditioner

Hair brush 

Sadly, these items are used for getting ready alone. 

Unfortunately, College of Charleston does not have a recycling program. While they do have separate bins for compost, landfill, and recycling, they all end up in the same place. When I was in the dining hall, I watched them empty each of the separate bins into the same bin. It’s upsetting to see organizations that have the funds to recycle, but they do not. If enough of us have this conversation, things will change.



I do believe that this was an accurate representation of my daily life. Being a college student, it’s hard to afford eco-friendly products. The prices of eco-friendly products are much higher because plastic is the cheaper alternative.  Since I have been in college I feel that I have been using much more plastic than I do at home. Everything I own is basically made of some sort of plastic. It’s cheap and easy to throw away when you are done with it. Being in college, you are always on the move. Most days I don’t have time to sit down and eat. I usually grab a plastic water bottle and a plastic wrapped granola bar.


So many things are made of plastic that we don’t even realize. I find it ironic learning about plastic on a plastic computer, on a plastic desk, sitting on a plastic chair, even the clothes you are wearing are made of plastic. Plastic is surrounding us. When calculating my plastic footprint, I found out that I alone leave a footprint of 50.3 pounds a year. While that is less than the national average of 110 pounds a year. That’s around the same weight as a baby hippo!



Before taking this class I had no idea I used so much plastic. I truly had no idea that some of the things I owned were even made of plastic. I believe that if everyone gets educated, we can be the change the world needs. Instead of asking what you can do to change others actions, what actions are you taking currently to help solve this problem?

If you are interested in this topic more, I recommend checking out this website. It has tons of information on our plastic footprints and what we each can do!