It’s important to remember running a business isn’t just about a great product or phenomenal service; it’s also about good public relations and practicing social responsibility. Being socially responsible can range from doing things like fundraising to practicing award-winning sustainability efforts and a million things in between. Craft brewery Great Lakes Brewing Company in Cleveland, Ohio does both – fundraising to lead to sustainability.
Last year, brewpub owners Pat and Dan Conway received the Champions of the Decade Award from Entrepreneurs for Sustainability, a business network oriented towards sustainability. A Cleveland resident nominated the brothers for their strong sustainability practices.
Sustainability at the Brewery
Beau Daane on the blog Weatherhead Masters Blog touches on the sustainability practices Great Lakes Brewing Company has taken. I’m going to pull a page out of his book.
- For starters, the company recycles used vegetable oil from cooking to fuel a beer delivery truck and a shuttle bus called The Fatty Wagon.
- Some menu items, liked the cracked barely beer bread and pretzels, are made using recycled barely from the brewing process.
- All menus, promotional items, beverage napkins and beer cases are made out of 100% recycled materials.
- Great Lakes Brewing Company uses vermicomposting to fertilize the herbs and vegetables found on the menu. What is vermicomposting? Now, this may turn some of you off but it’s actually amazing! Vermicomposting is the process of feeding worms paper, kitchen scraps, grains and cardboard and then using the worm castings as a top-notch organic fertilizer. Castings are poop…that’s the gross part.
- In the winter Great Lakes Brewing Company uses cold air from outside to cool the beer to reduce the use of electricity.
- Bottles of beer that aren’t completely filled in the bottling process don’t just get thrown away; they’re used in menu items.
- The brewery gets its herbs and vegetables from two organic farms it manages – Pint Size Farm and Ohio City Farm.
Great Lakes Brewing Company has implemented a non-profit organization and some events to illuminate its efforts.
The Burning River Fest
Started in 2001, the Burning River Fest has been an event put on by Great Lakes Brewing Company to bring people together to remember the burning of the Cuyahoga River in 1969.
The event is supposed to celebrate the renewed sense of eco-consciousness the fire sparked. Great Lakes Brewing Company brews a pale ale called Burning River to commemorate the event. Click here for more information on the fire and the history of the Cuyahoga River from cleveland.com’s article on the 40th anniversary of the fire.
The Burning Rive Fest features displays from local environmental groups and educational organizations, local and organic food and live music. The proceeds from the event benefit sustainability efforts of the Great Lakes that focus on water quality. Since 2001, almost $250,000 has been awarded.
The Burning River Fest will take place this year on July 23 and 24 at the historic Coast Guard Station on Whiskey Island.
The Burning River Foundation
Established in 2007 as a result of the support of the Burning River Fest, the foundation is a non-profit organization whose purpose through grants, donations and community involvement is to provide far-reaching education and resources for the conservation, protection, exploration, prevention and sustainable future of our waterways, more specifically, the Great Lakes.
The Burning River Foundation has promoted sustainability through the donation of funds for:
- A contraption called the Living Machine at the Cleveland Museum of Natural History that ecologically treats wastewater.
- Bringing back electricity to the historic Coast Guard Station at the mouth of the Cuyahoga River.
- Preservation and restoration in the West Creek watershed.
The steps Great Lakes Brewing Company are taking to be eco-friendly are simple steps that many businesses can take to help make the world a greener place. It’s important to preserve where we live, make it a better place for our kids, grandkids, great grandkids…you get the picture.