GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – On Earth Day’s 45th anniversary, the Earth Day Network is tracking more than 1.1 billion “acts of green” around the world. Those acts include volunteers in Grand Rapids, where several breweries have teamed up to pay tribute to the clean water they need to brew great beer.
Staff volunteered with WMEAC to weed the organization’s back rain garden, to maintain the building’s green roof, and to prepare rain barrels. Each project was aimed at sustaining one of our prized natural resources: good, clean water, which is a key ingredient in making good beer.
“Water everywhere, good water sources is where good beer is made all over the world, and maybe even on other planets,” said Jon Ward, Brewery Vivant warden. “That’s just how it works. So if as brewers we’re not being responsible to good water sources, and maintaining those, we’re just shooting ourselves in the foot.”
Aside from the fact staff from breweries were celebrating Earth Day, leaders from both breweries said their business is tied to the environment.
“This is a constant, every single day thinking about every new move that we make there gets the rundown from is this going to be profitable, is this going to be good for our community, and then is this going to be good for the earth?” said Ward.
Whether it is focusing on the slow foods movement, reusing recycled materials, or working to put money back in their local neighborhoods, Harmony and Vivant officials said they build on local sustainability.
“We try in our everyday actions to always make the greener choice, so one of the things we’re really proud we’re able to do is support local producers,” said Heather Van Dyke-Titus, Harmony Brewing Company co-owner.
WMEAC coordinators led this day of giving back, and explained how these gardens and rain barrels protect the Great Lakes. The rain barrels work to collect rain water where it falls, rather than running into streets and spreading pollutants, which would eventually end up in main waterways.
“Essentially people on an everyday basis can be stewards of their natural world: they can focus on recycling by using less water, by conserving the water they have, and by being aware of the natural world around them,” said Ondrea Spychalski, WMEAC water programs outreach coordinator.
In order to purchase a rain barrel from WMEAC, Spychalski said anyone interested must participate in a rain barrel workshop and then can build and take home their own barrel for $30. For more information on opportunities to get involved with WMEAC, visit their website.