In the Christmas period, it is estimated that 5,768,212,788 units of alcohol are consumed by adult Britons*. Extrapolating that globally, we start to see numbers that are difficult to pronounce i.e. a lot of alcohol. Despite this increased festive consumption, public thought often fails to address questions such as “was this alcohol manufactured sustainably?” or “are we making the climate crisis worse by drinking this much?” The public majority, understandably, is more focused on actually having a good time and enjoying Christmas, so questions like this, although important, are rarely addressed.
We know alcohol consumption has a detrimental impact on the environment, yet, unfortunately, our impact is not mitigated when we invest more time and money in measuring the impact alcohol manufacturing and consumption has to an exact degree – we become aware; a good start, but in reality, just another nice to know added to the list along with aeroplanes, cars and cows. But then what we can do to actually prevent the problem? Who then can we turn to?
Cue Flor de Caña. The world’s only carbon neutral and fair trade certified spirit. The Nicaraguan rum distillery has been manufacturing rum since 1890 and is now a 5th generation family business. They were awarded the ‘Distillery Sustainability Award’ and the ‘Ethical Award’ during the Spirit Business Awards 2021 – an unprecedented achievement. These were awarded in recognition of their sustainable practices and in todays climate, the most effective mitigating factor, against excessive consumption and the subsequent plight for the climate crisis, will be relying on suppliers instilling sustainability from the very first stage of the supply chain – only then will we, as consumers, have any chance of reducing our impact at the other end of the supply chain.
It’s important to note that Flor de Caña has not driven these sustainable practices at the expense of its quality, having been awarded ‘Best Rum Producer of the Year’ by the International Wine and Spirit competition in 2017. Producing top quality rum is no easy feat and doing this sustainably certainly doesn’t correlate to an easier road. Here’s how Flor de Caña maintain their sustainable credentials:
Given their demonstratable focus on sustainable practices, Flor de Caña was selected to part of Amazon’s Climate Pledge Family – yet another accolade for the tally. By being sustainable, the inevitable positive impact it has on society is not simply an after thought but rather ‘the whole point’.
Some of their environmental programs include distilling their rum using 100% renewable energy, planting 50,000 trees since 2005 and recycling the CO2 produced in fermentation. They give free education to their employees children, since 1913, and have free health care for all employees’ families at the company hospital, since 1958, and also contribute significantly to charities such as Aproquen, for child burn victims and cleft patients, and the American Nicaraguan Foundation, alleviating poverty.
They also partnered with One Tree Planted as part of a global reforestation campaign, where $1 = 1 tree. They help reduce global food waste through zero waste cocktails in ‘Zero Waste Month’ and this mentality is what enables them to promote the creation of sustainable cocktails in the ‘Sustainable Cocktail Challenge’.
Through repeated, demonstrated measures, Flor de Caña has proven to be a manufacturer, upon whom, we as consumers can rely on to reduce our carbon footprint. Their business, by definition, ties in with UN SDG 12 ‘Responsible consumption and production’ through targets related to reducing waste, use of renewable energy and also promoting this ideology wider in society. Aside from SDG 12, it’s clear through their sustainability programs, Flor de Caña also positively impact SDG 7, 9 and 11.
Respect and gratitude are but two sentiments I have in abundance for Flor de Caña and their trail blazing approach to sustainability. Let’s hope that not only do they continue to flourish but also that other manufacturers and suppliers adopt similarly sustainable practices so that the supply chains feeding us at Christmas, and all year round, begin to do as much good as they taste.