Next Friday, people across the planet will down tools for the global #ClimateStrike, walking out of their workplaces to join young climate strikers on the streets and call for action on the climate crisis. The Crafty Pint will be among the beer businesses taking part and we hope to encourage more people in the local beer industry to join in too.
Beer is a luxury product and brewing is an energy intensive industry that uses substantial amounts of water. It's also a product that will suffer greatly if the global climate continues on its current trajectory, as highlighted more than three years ago by Young Henrys in their joint venture with the Climate Council.
Many in the industry are taking steps to reduce their carbon footprint and awareness is growing, but we're at a point in time when significant action needs to be taken by governments.
Jessie Jungalwalla, who is responsible for graphic design at The Crafty Pint and runs the Craft Instinct design agency, which works with beer businesses across Australia, conceived the "No Beer On A Dead Planet" message and artwork and has been the driving force behind our push to get the beer world on board.
"For a long time I've had concern for our environment and have felt passionately about doing what I can to protect it from the powers that be," she says, recalling a job at university that involved dressing up as a koala and dancing in the streets of Melbourne to collect donations for The Wilderness Society.
"As time has progressed so has the science and the number of significant climate-related catastrophes, all pointing towards the fact we're destroying ourselves and the planet. Awareness on the topic has skyrocketed, yet our politicians are not listening, nor taking the immediate action that is needed if we are to turn this ship around.
"It's like a bath that is being filled up and is spilling over the edges, and, instead of turning off the taps, we are using a mop to try and fix the situation."
Her hope is that the slogan will resonate with the wider public, particularly in such a beer-loving country. What's more, given the growth of the beer industry in recent years, as she says: "We have numbers, so let's get out there and march."
One brewery throwing their not inconsiderable weight behind the cause is Stone & Wood, who have offered their staff the chance to take the day off to participate in the march at Byron Bay. James Perrin, the brewery's sustainability manager, says their decision to take part in the strike was driven by their feeling that, as a business that creates waste and burns fossil fuels, they should play a role in driving awareness.
“For us, we see it as an opportunity for businesses to turn up and say, 'We play an active role in this too and we stand up to support all the youths and all the people around the country and the world who want meaningful action on climate change,',” he says.
“We use gas, we use electricity, we use fossil fuels for transport and distribution and we contribute to waste and landfill – we’re part of the system.”
While some in the beer industry and wider business community do try to act as sustainability as they can, James says government action is needed to help reduce carbon emissions and the amount of waste created by breweries.
“We do what we can and spend where we can to do as much as possible but, at the same time, we need to stand up and demand action and demand that governments and policymakers actually create change," he says.
“We do as much as we can to try and be as environmentally friendly as possible but a lot of these bad environmental practices are geared in a way that it’s the cheaper or sometimes the only things businesses can do.”
The decision to let staff join the rally has been taken up widely by Stone & Wood staff.
“We’ll have most of our team there on the day, if not all," James says. "This was really driven by a groundswell of people in the business that are passionate about it; it didn’t come from the top down, it came from team members saying we should be standing up for something like this.
“All of our people are welcome to go, we won’t be brewing in Murwillumbah and we’ll be closing our [Byron] tasting room until the strike is over.”
Stone & Wood are also involved in the Not Business As Usual campaign, driven by ethical superannuation fund Future Super, which at time of writing also included the Good Beer Co among its participants. Along with other certified B Corp companies, Stone & Wood have placed ads in today's newspapers, calling on the government to do more to address climate change.
Meanwhile, other local breweries taking action include One Drop in Botany, who are shutting down their brewery for the entire day – no production, cellar, heating or cooling running – and allowing employees to take part.
#ClimateStrike comes just two weeks after James gave a presentation at BrewCon at which he called for the industry to collaborate on brewing more sustainable beer, a call he says received a positive response from those in the industry.
“There’s already a lot of involvement and people wanting to support that," he says. "I’ll be starting a bit of a dialogue with all those brewers and potentially forming a project group as part of the [Independent Brewers Association].”
The Crafty Pint will be joining the action across the country and hope to see more beer people getting involved too. We've set up an event page on Facebook for updates and, if any breweries or beer business are taking part, please get in touch if you'd like to share your details.
If you're attending the #ClimateStrike in Melbourne, you might also bump into Jessie doing her bit to make a difference.
"Sometimes I find myself getting overwhelmed by it all, especially when I look at kids," she says. "It's even made me consider not having my own kids, even though ever since I remember I've always wanted to be a mum.
"It's easy to feel pretty hopeless sometimes and getting involved in something like this is a way to battle this hopelessness. If there are enough of us there, I truly believe that united we can make a difference."
You can find out more about #ClimateStrike here. You can also download Jessie's No Beer On A Dead Planet artwork to show your support:
For more examples of the steps local beer businesses are taking to reduce their carbon footprint, check out our Going Green series.