Since realising just how much we’d been spending on our monthly shopping, Andrew and I have been cutting down on drinking, as it seems like an easy thing to cut out to save significant cash. Although it’s primarily for financial reasons, drinking (especially on a week night) does not help with the never-ending tiredness of having a one-year-old who hardly sleeps and a three year old who thinks 6.30am is a lay-in.
We’d got into the habit of having a drink whenever we fancied it, so were probably drinking about £20 worth of alcohol a week and having a drink every two to three nights.
I get anxious about many, many things, but my worries related to drinking were the main reason I spent nearly five years in therapy. My Dad was an alcoholic and his drinking had a profound impact on me, so much so that I’d worry endlessly about how much I drank and look for signs that I too was heading towards the same fate. Sadly, my Dad passed away last year and alcoholism was cited as the secondary cause of death, with cancer as the primary cause. So drinking too much is a real anxiety trigger for me.
Every two weeks our recycling bins get emptied and seeing just how many empty drinks bottles and cans we were accumulating was another reason to cut down. I didn’t think about it much until today but seeing beer cans overflowing from the recycling bin reminded me of when my Mum, my brother and I used to take bags and bags of empty Special Brew cans that my Dad had drunk to the recycling bins at our local Tesco in the ’90s.
So, as well as heaving money and saving me from trigger-tastic memories, is drinking less actually better for the environment?
Apparently alcohol production is responsible for 1.5% of the UK’s greenhouse gas emissions and it takes 5-10 pints of water to produce just one pint of beer. Consuming any kind of alcohol produces waste in the form of glass, metal and, in some cases, plastic. Although these can be recycled – it takes a lot of energy to do so.
Knowing what wine and beer is vegan is also a reason to cut down or stop drinking in pubs all together. We drank Coors Light the two times we went to our local for drinks recently, before a vegan friend pointed out that it was only vegan when brewed in America. I also spent £4.50 on a teeny tiny can of beer in a pub as it was the only one I knew was vegan and I was too self-conscious to ask the barman what other ones were vegan. I actually ordered it three times as the shame of causing a vegan fuss was so strong.
I remember seeing a picture of some kind of seabird with a plastic beer ring stuck round its neck (potentially on Blue Peter?) and it stuck with me so much that I’ve always chopped up beer rings into tiny pieces. Now I realise that by doing this I’m actually creating micro-palstics. Sigh.