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Saturday, April 26, 2008

A beer for Earth Day

Eric Warner, who wrote the book, literally, on German-style Wheat Beer in the US, recently railed against Earth Hour and Earth Day.

Don’t get me wrong. I think Earth Day is a great idea. Except for the fact that it only happens one day a year. <...>

The biggest joke was this thing a couple of weeks ago where everyone was supposed to turn off non-essential lighting for one hour on a SATURDAY NIGHT!!! Not much going on in most businesses on a Saturday night, and besides, what are lights doing on that don’t need to be on ANYWAY???

To paraphrase 1990s-vintage Jim Carville: it's the symbolism silly!

Flying Dog Brewing Company promulgates powerful images, symbols, to market Flying Dog and its beers. And does so effectively.

If it's good enough for business, then what's wrong with a little symbolism for real life issues?

In its heyday, Earth Day introduced ecology into the mainstream discussion. (It's lost some of its earlier steam in recent years. Maybe it could use some new-found energy.)

Earth Hour is an international event, started by World Wildlife Fund (WWF) Australia only last year, that asks households and businesses to turn off their lights and non-essential electrical appliances during the 8PM hour, one day a year.

It is indeed merely a symbolic act. But symbols can hold potency in and of themselves. And, when marketed correctly —as Eric does at his brewery— symbols can effect real change.

Eric suggests simple measures he has taken, steps that anyone else could do as well. "I’m done with bottled water," he says [except for the tasty extracted barley version he sells!]. Got by fine without it 20 years ago."

So, what did I do to observe Tuesday's Earth Day?

I turned off a lot of computer peripherals and electronic clocks and LEDs. Not a big thing, to be sure, but a personal practice that would be good as a daily routine. As my Dad used to say: put out the lights!

And there's something else.

Blogger Greg Clow wrote this at his blog — Beer, Beats, & Bites:
there are just a few minutes left in Earth Day 2008, but it’s not too late for me to mention that, for beer drinkers, one of the best ways to help the environment any day of the year is to drink local. Every extra mile that a beer has to travel to get to you means an extra little bit of crap being pumped into the air. Plus closer usually means fresher, and with most beers, fresher is better.

Think globally, DRINK LOCALLY.

[UPDATE 2008.07.21: Eric Warner relinquishes his CEO spot to Jim Caruso.]

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