By Mark Peterson
With all my recent articles about disposable items you may be wondering what I am growling at. Well, this time around I’m not growling at the plastic disposable water bottles that are way to ubiquitous in our daily lives. Instead, I’m growling loud and proud about and easy way for us all to reduce our contributions to landfills. If you couldn’t tell by now, I’m talking about the growler refills available at many breweries, cideries and some select stores also for kombucha. Unfortunately, Washington state wineries have yet to see the light and in fact have been an obstacle for allowing your local wine shop to offer you a carafe of casked wine to take to your next dinner party (socially distanced of course). We’ll be taking that topic on at length in a future blog – so stay tuned on that one.
If you’re like me, and a generally inquisitive and curious type, I couldn’t help but wonder how a generic reusable jug evolved to be called a growler. According to Merriam – Webster the term has a number of possible explanations including impatient customers would growl as they waited for their fill, after consuming the entire container, a person might get moody and growl, did the bartender purposefully fill the vessel too quickly and foam it only to have it be half full by the time the foam settled, and the customer growled in angst when they arrived home? Or my personal favorite is that the noise from the carbon dioxide escaping from the imperfect lids sounds like a low growl. But ultimately, Merriam – Webster concludes, “What these stories all suggest is that it is likely this sense of growler, referring to a container of beer poured from a tap at a bar or brewery and taken home, is of imitative origin, but who used it first and in what context remains a mystery.”
Now that we have the fun part and inquisitive part wrapped up, the truth is, this is really an important topic. Disposable containers are a scourge, and we need to do as much as we can to limit their use for only when necessary. Sure, we have all forgotten our reusable water bottle or coffee mug from time to time but what is important is that we build good habits, and this becomes the rare occurrence rather than the norm. The simple fact is that many of the containers we presume are getting recycled are not. The best case scenario here is, the “convenient” one time use item that has a sizeable carbon foot print, will end up in a landfill, as opposed to litter on a beach or stream. Recycling isn’t able to provide us the feel-good cover for wanton resource consumption that it once did, and it is far past time we come to grips with that.
How can we be better? My main suggestion is to be thoughtful and start with remembering to bring our mug and water bottle. Another thoughtful action is purchasing beverages in aluminum cans rather than plastic. Aluminum is infinitely recyclable and relatively inert in the unfortunate event it may become litter unlike plastic. There are options for our beverage purchases, and we can all make some relatively simple changes in our daily routines that add up to big changes collectively. So, with that thought in mind it is time to for me to sign off – I’ve got a growler I need to go refill!