There is some good news in this pandemic.
With most of humanity in lockdown, Mother Earth is already showing positive signs of recovery. In Los Angeles, the notorious smog—which has defined the city for decades—has lifted. Meanwhile in Venice, Italy, the once murky, polluted canals are crystal clear (the cleanest they've been in 60 years). And in our national parks, wildlife roams free and appears to be thriving without us around.
As Earth Day approaches, these stories are welcome news—finally something about the climate we can celebrate, even if we have to do it at home. In the past, Earth Day was an invitation to consider our individual carbon footprint: maybe bike into work instead of taking the car. But as Earth Day passes, we're soon back to our routines. And our cars.
But we have an idea...
Turns out, wine lovers are uniquely equipped to reduce, reuse and recycle just by doing what we do best: drinking wine! And not just for one day. We're talking walking that walk 365-days a year! Seem too good to be true? Here are a few super simple ways wine can help save the planet.
The simplest way to shrink your carbon footprint is to buy local. It reduces waste by eliminating unnecessary packaging and reduces fuel emissions since they don't have to be shipped in from other parts of the country. At the same time, you can feel good about supporting local growers. In case you missed it, check out our blog on how to support local wineries. Many Idaho wineries offer some form of curbside pickup, others deliver to your door, and many have online specials.
Drink sustainable wines
It's almost impossible to believe, but even wine making can impact the environment over time. Which is why sustainable wine production is quickly growing in popularity. There are LIVE wines (Low Input Viticulture and Enology), organic wines (made from 100% organic grapes and zero sulfates) and something called Biodynamic wines (which blend ultra-organic practices with a bit of mysticism). Here in Idaho, multiple wineries boast sustainable offerings, including Bitner Vineyards and 3 Horse Ranch, among many others.
Recycle your bottles
Healthy skeptics are right to ask: aren't my recyclables just ending up in a landfill? The answer to that is a definitive, "maybe." But you can increase the odds by making sure you're doing the right thing on your end:
- Do not break your bottles. There is no market for recycling broken glass.
- Leave the label/foil on but remove all metal caps and corks (don't worry if your cork broke and there are little bits in the bottle).
- Remove any non-containers from your glass recycling, including Pyrex, glassware, windows, and mirrors. These glass products can’t be recycled with containers.
But if you're not comfortable with uncertainty, go straight to the source. Many wineries have refillable bottle programs, where old bottles are returned, cleaned, sterilized and reused.
Sort your cork
So, what to do with all those discarded corks and caps? Synthetic corks and screw caps can be recycled. But natural corks cannot. Those go into your compost bin (if you have one). If even the thought of all those corks littering landfills keeps you up at night, there is another solution. Some companies are happy to take your used corks and transform them into everything from shoes to bags and flooring. Zee Christopher in downtown Boise often hosts events where you can put your corks toward supporting a good cause.
Buy cans instead
Look, we don't have to perpetuate tired old stereotypes to enjoy wine. Wine in cans is okay. Actually, it's better than okay! It's a movement and it's growing. These days, it’s easy to find cans of chardonnay, pinot noir and rosé on the shelves (and at music festivals). It's especially popular with younger drinkers who crave easy-drinking options. And canned wine pairs especially well with outdoorsy and adventure-oriented lifestyles. Just throw a six-pack in your hiking gear and you're good to go. Plus, the empties are so much easier to recycle than bottles. Or turn them in yourself, if you're into that sort of thing.
As a striving eco-conscious wine lover, welcome to the wonderful world of wine-bottle crafts. Just a quick search in Pinterest will fill your monitor with hundreds of inspirational photos of wine bottles enjoying second lives. Some have become life-giving terrariums. Others have been bedazzled in paint, crystals and other ephemera to become centerpieces or wall art. The possibilities are as unlimited as your imagination.
Is anything more wasteful than letting an uncorked bottle go to waste? Frankly, we believe in drinking bottles as fast as they're opened. But if you find yourself wanting just a glass now and then, there are ways to make wine last longer. Wine bladders, refillable growlers and recyclable wine bags all extend the life of your wine. Growlers—containers or vessels that are used to transport beverages—are particularly useful. And many Idaho wineries have Growler programs where you can pop in for a quick refill. Fujishin Family Cellars growler program is especially popular but isn't the only one. Split Rail Winery, Cinder Wines (both in downtown Boise) and Pend d'Oreille Winery (up in the panhandle) all have their own unique programs.
Mother Earth needs us and we need her
No one loves the Earth more than lovers of the vine. After all, isn't our entire existence grounded in, well, the ground? Without healthy soil, there are no healthy grapes and so on.
If we can't help, who can?
Step aside, Thunberg. We've got some drinking to do.