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Craft Brewing, Sustainability, and Playing the Long Game

Craft Brewing, Sustainability, and Playing the Long Game

January 26th, 2018
By Cheri Chastain, Guest Blogger

Cheri Chastain has been the Sustainability Manager for Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. since 2006. Cheri is responsible for educating employees on environmental issues and programs as well as maintaining and developing policies and projects related to renewable energy and energy efficiency, zero waste, alternative fuels, and water conservation and reuse.

Cheri also volunteers to contribute to policy and advocacy issues relating to sustainability. Cheri is currently a member of the City of Chico’s Sustainability Task Force, Co-Chairs the Brewers Association Sustainability Subcommittee, is a board member of the US Zero Waste Business Council, and a founding member of the Glass Recycling Coalition.

The ForeverGreen Awards Luncheon celebrates individuals and organizations for significant contributions in fields related to conservation and sustainable growth in Upstate South Carolina. This year’s award recipients worked on some truly impressive projects, including a statewide Adopt A Stream initiative, an eye-opening growth study, and a farm-to-school partnership. 

Buy tickets to the luncheon

The awardees embody several core principles of sustainability: innovation, collaboration, and dedication. It’s no coincidence that these principles are also at the heart of some of the most entrepreneurial and successful businesses out there today. Sustainability isn’t just some hippie mantra or marketing buzzword — it’s an essential component for longevity and resiliency, requiring people of all ages, religions, ethnicities, socioeconomic statuses, and political affiliations to be engaged with it.

Sierra Nevada, one of the country’s pioneer craft brewers, has made sustainability a core business value since its founding in 1980.  Sierra Nevada owns craft brewing’s largest solar array, offers free electric vehicle parking to our guests, and lends its voice to sustainable policy development. Our Mills River, NC brewery was the first facility in the world to achieve Platinum level certification in both LEED and TRUE Zero Waste. 

Our commitment to sustainable and efficient business practices stems first and foremost from our values. Not only is it the right thing to do, engaging in sustainability comes with plenty of economic reasons to incorporate this mindset into any business. Engaging in energy and water efficiency practices protect natural resources while reducing overall operating expenses. Our zero waste efforts not only eliminate what would be thousands of dollars in disposal costs, but bring a revenue stream and keep materials in production cycles.  

Make no mistake: choosing the long-term strategy for your business, community, or lifestyle isn’t always the path of least resistance.  We all feel the daily pressure of immediate returns, benefits, and cost savings. But we need to understand the long-term impacts of the decisions we make: how do they impact our environment, our coworkers, our communities, and our ability to survive into the future. At Sierra Nevada, we choose to practice sustainability not only because of the business benefits, but because it’s part of our DNA. 

In my conversations with Upstate Forever staff, I’ve learned that the Upstate is currently wrestling with the question of how to balance growth with natural resource protection. This is why the work Upstate Forever is doing to protect green space, water quality, and regional character is so urgent and critical. 

There are no easy answers: it takes ongoing dedication, innovation, and collaboration to forge a sustainable vision for any community. It’s certainly not an easy road but judging from this year’s award recipients and Upstate Forever’s 20 years of success stories, there are plenty of reasons to feel optimistic about a sustainable future for the Upstate. 

I look forward to speaking at the ForeverGreen Luncheon on February 27 and hope to see you there! 

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