How Beer Cans Can Save the World

By Jim Hagarty

Like many other people, those of us who believe that humans are putting our environment at risk, I worry about the kind of planet we will leave for future generations. Maybe I don’t worry enough about it, as I keep driving my gas guzzler and make sure my home is toasty warm all winter, knowing I could just put on a sweater and keep the thermostat down.

But I soothe my conscience by following all the recycling practices in place in my community and by composting everything we can. We also stopped using any kind of insecticides more than 20 years ago when our kids were babies and crawling around on our lawns. I remember around that time we were having a party in our backyard and in preparation for it, I went to the store and bought a chemical which I sprayed on our patio paving stones to kill all the ants living in the cracks. I killed them all right and almost immediately wondered why I had felt such a pressing need to do that. Two decades later, I still feel badly about those ants although the good news is, the patio has been repopulated with more of the little creatures than ever. We co-exist now.

And we also live in harmony with the dandelions.

But the world is facing bigger problems than our ants and dandelions and I am always cheered up when I learn about what people are doing all around us to make our world a better place. I have always believed that in the end, the goodwill and genius of the super creative people among us would be our salvation. So I applaud every breakthrough.

Here is one that was reported on recently.

The headline:

Brewery Creates Edible Six-Pack Rings that Feed, Rather Than Kill, Marine Life

And the story:

A brewery started by surfers, fishermen and “people who love the sea” has developed edible ring-holders for their six-packs of beer. The material – made of barley and wheat remnants from the brewing process – is 100-percent biodegradable and safe for fish, turtles, birds and other marine life to eat, unlike the plastic ring-holders that are now killing them by the millions.

Each year, “an estimated one million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals and sea turtles become entrapped in plastic or ingest it and die,” says marine biologist Mark Tokulka.

Americans consume more than six billion gallons of beer each year, half of which comes in cans. Most of the plastic rings that hold those cans together end up in the ocean. Saltwater Brewery in Delray Beach, Florida, wants to change that.

The hope is that other craft breweries and large beer companies will follow their lead. If they did, the manufacturing cost would drop and be very competitive with the cost of plastic six-pack rings, saving hundreds of thousands of marine lives.

In light of the recent projection that there will be more plastic than fish in the sea by 2050, it’s a step in the right direction!

My Thoughts:

I have seen stories such as this before, then heard nothing more about them as time passed. I have often wondered what became of them. There was a small urban car invented that runs on compressed air and which was to debut in Hawaii last year. And there have been cars that have been invented which run on water, the latest I could find was developed in India earlier this year.

My son and I sometimes discuss what the world might be like in a hundred years. We make a few predictions. Then we try to look down the road a thousand years. Hopefully the planet by then will be an oasis and not a desert.

I think it will be and the 200-year Industrial Revolution will be written about in the history books as a low point in human evolution.

Author: Jim Hagarty

I am a 65-year-old retired journalist, busy recovering from a lifelong career as an unretired journalist. This year marks a half century of my scratching out little fables about life. My interests include genealogy, humour and music. I live in a little blue shack in Canada and spend most of my time trying to stay out of trouble. I am not that good at it. I also spent years teaching journalism. Poor state of journalism today: My fault. I have a family I don't deserve, a dog that adores me, and two cars the junk yard refuses to accept. My prized possessions include my old guitar and a razor my Dad gave me when I was 14 and which I still use when I bother to shave. Oh, and my great-great-grandfather's blackthorn stick he brought from Ireland in the 1850s. I have only one opinion but it is a good one: People take too many showers.

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