Canned beer for a better future

Auntie Ruth is green to the eco scene. Read up each week as she slaps on her bifocals, weeds through the dirt and unearths new gems of environmental knowledge.

Your dear Auntie Ruth sure does worry about kids these days. All those ultraviolent video games and high teen-pregnancy rates. And just what the heck is an “emo,” anyway? But every once in a while, a ray of hope shines bright. Take 16-year-old Canadian Daniel Burd, for example. Burd figured that since plastic bags take 1,000 years to decompose in nature, there might be an organism responsible for speeding up the process. Using the trusty scientific method, he identified two strains of bacteria—Sphingomonas and Pseudomonas—that break down plastic naturally. Once he identified the microorganisms, he tweaked his lab conditions until he cut the decomposition time down to a mere three months. Brilliant! The young Canuck has earned numerous awards for his potentially world-changing discovery.

Speaking of nice young men, Ruth has a treat to share with you fine gentlemen. What’s in a can? Usually soda, fruit juice and shamefully bad beer. But there’s now a new actor in the arena: good beer. A fast-growing number of craft breweries have canned their product, which means a lighter carbon footprint. Cans cost less than glass to recycle and can undergo meltdown an indefinite number of times; glass quickly loses its structural integrity. But will Ruth buy canned beer regularly? If you must know, she sipped the big and bitter Gordon beer of Oskar Blues, the coconut porter from Maui Brewing and Caldera Brewing’s IPA, and enjoyed all three. Perhaps a bit too much!

But it’s not all fun and games. Too often, it’s profound sadness. For instance, a new study found that Papua New Guinea’s rainforest is being destroyed at an alarmingly fast rate. This island country in Oceania is home to the world’s third largest tropical rainforest, but 83 percent of the accessible forest is expected to be damaged or gone by the year 2021. Multinational timber companies have ravaged the forest since the 1980s, helped along by a placating government, which seems to turn the other cheek where logging laws are concerned. Ruth can’t even bring herself to look at photographs of indigenous landowners operating the very logging trucks that are destroying their way of life and the land that has supported their people for centuries. Just the thought of it pains her soul.