We’re all being encouraged to reduce our household waste, to consume ethically and to be mindful of the amount of plastic we use once and throw out. And rightfully so. It can be difficult to change habits, especially when a lot of the decision making about what we buy is taken out of our hands, primarily because of the form that packaging takes and how ubiquitous it can be. There is, however, one place central to Irish life and culture that hasn’t let go of the old adage of ‘waste not want not’ and has been practising a low waste philosophy for as long as it has existed. You’re reading this on a website called Publin so we can probably spare you the drawn out suspense of what industry we’re talking about.
Think about it; in an age when coffee drinkers are more and more bringing their own cups to satisfy their caffeine urge and will to drink the beverage on the go, the pub encourages people to take the time to sit down and enjoy the experience on site, being sustainable but without the need to bring your own container. What’s more, if you happen to be drinking a draft beverage, the vessel itself is the thing that is refillable. Over and over and over a keg will be reused, taking it from brewery to pub. Take that line of thinking even further down the line and if you consume a beer made in James’ Gate or one of the many craft breweries in Dublin and Ireland the carbon footprint for the drink is considerably lessened when compared with buying drinks from around the world. Even still, if a beer comes from abroad in kegs they won’t be producing any unnecessary packaging. They’re in a hygienic and reusable container that negates the need for plastic.
Even if you’re not drinking a draft beer, cider or even wine (yes wine on tap exists in quite a few places), nearly every other liquid sold in pubs comes in glass bottles, which is completely recyclable. Spirits often come in oversized bottles, with this bulk size reducing the need for multiple units.
I suppose we’re making this case half in jest and half in seriousness because pubs are extremely efficient operations. They’re also integral parts of communities meaning they’re responsive to change and will listen when a point is made. Take for example the campaign to cut down on the use of plastic straws in recent years. Pubs listened and led that charge, changing plastic straws for biodegradable options, reusable options, or simply not giving straws out by default and cutting down on the amount used.
When it comes to food, Dublin pubs have listened to what customers now want and have revolutionised the pub experience in the last decade by offering high quality food grown locally by producers, keeping your money circulating in the economy. A lot of people are opting to cut down on the amount of meat they eat, perhaps not cooking it at home so much and opting to eat in pubs where the provenance of the meat is known and the quality is assured to be very good. Cooking in bulk helps to cut down on food waste, especially when it comes to valuable foods like meat. It’s also a better option than take away food considering the amount of packaging that comes associated with that.
It’s not hyperbole to say that the local pub may be one of the best allies we have when it comes to reducing, reusing, and recycling.