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15 best eco-friendly drinks for more sustainable sipping

From rum produced in a tropical rainforest to alcohol-free beer made from reclaimed orange and lemon peels

Claire Dodd
Monday 08 June 2020 08:15 BST
Whether it’s using less packaging or an alternative source of energy, all these brands make sustainability their mission  
Whether it’s using less packaging or an alternative source of energy, all these brands make sustainability their mission  

A good drink needn’t cost the earth. And with drinks makers across the world now making efforts to offset their impact on the environment, now’s the time to seek out a more sustainable sipper.

There’s no getting around it, from elaborate packaging, to the vast amounts of water used, and the heat and energy required for the brewing and distillation process, the drinks industry is responsible for a huge amount of waste.

However, from sustainable sourcing practices to the use of alternative energy, there are now a number of producers making strides to become ever more eco-friendly, with some even claiming to benefit the environment.

With no industry standard for taking a more environmentally-friendly route, approaches vary.

In fact, the challenge to produce more sustainable drinks is certainly leading to a flourish of creativity; from climate positive spirits that claim to put back more than they take, to those making use of discarded foods such as breakfast cereals, and by-products of the cheese-making process.

Earlier this year, for example, Somerset-based brewer, the Wild Beer Co launched a beer made without water. The aptly named No Water, which has since sold out, used whey in place of its principle ingredient.

In our list we’ve highlighted those making strides towards becoming more sustainable – be it through reduced or recycled packaging, eliminating the use of plastic, upcycling waste ingredients, and the use of alternative energy sources – as well as those claiming carbon neutrality to give you a list of drinks you can feel good about. We’ll raise a glass to that.

You can trust our independent reviews. We may earn commission from some of the retailers, but we never allow this to influence selections, which are formed from real-world testing and expert advice. This revenue helps to fund journalism across The Independent.

Freestar alcohol free beer, 0.0%

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Just because you’re swerving the booze, doesn’t mean you have to be left out. Totally virtuous, alcohol free beer Freestar claims to use 80 per cent less water and create 70 per cent less waste during production than the industry average.

Made without yeast, there’s no alcohol-removed. Instead Freestar blends malted barley, hops and water with natural ingredients –including pomelo and bergamot – to derive its flavour. It’s a process that means the complexities often lost in the de-alcoholisation process remain intact here. In fact, Freestar picked up at the 2019 World Beer Awards. Refreshing, and with that all important body – alcohol-free beers can tend to be a little thin – this certainly doesn’t feel like a compromise.

Fruity yet dry, there’s some tropical fruit, and some floral notes from the Perle hops, balanced out by a light bitterness. Gluten-free, and vegan friendly, it’s also just 62 calories per can.

  1. £8 from Amazon
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Greensand Ridge distillery raspberry ghost, 40%

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Distilling is an energy intensive process. But carbon neutral distillery, Greensand Ridge uses a range of methods to lessen its impact on the environment. Based in Kent, it uses 100 per cent renewable power, storing waste heat for later reuse, and sources its ingredients locally to reflect the flavours of the woods, orchards, fields and hedgerows surrounding the distillery.

For example, its multi-award winning London dry gin includes eight botanicals, including oak moss, gorse and cobnuts, that can all be found within a mile of the distillery. And it also works with farmers and food producers to source surplus produce unsuitable for supermarkets, from which to distil its spirits.

With a truly natural raspberry taste – with green, earthy notes as well as a hit of rich fruit – we’re fans of the raspberry ghost, a eau de vie, made with local Kentish fruit deemed too imperfect for supermarkets. In fact, we think it’s perfect mixed simply with tonic.

  1. £39 from Amazon
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The verdict: Eco-friendly drinks

For both its undeniably great taste, and extensive sustainable credentials, we can’t fault Cooper King’s Herb Gin. With the added cost of carbon offsetting and more sustainable production processes, eco-friendly products are invariably more expensive than their counterparts.

But on a par with the price of many premium gins, we also think that, though not cheap, it offers real value for money.

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