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According to official data, air pollution levels in Milan — including fine particulates — have been among Europe’s highest for February.

Fine particulate matter poses the most health risks because it can go deep into the lungs and even make its way into the bloodstream.

“It stinks! I smell a constant stench of smog, I cough, I feel my throat burning,” said Pietro De Luca, a Milan resident who frequently considers relocating with his family to get away from the intense pollution and accompanying health risks, as Reuters reported.

To reduce their exposure, some residents of the fashion and finance capital of Italy have taken to wearing face masks outside.

Mayor of Milan Giuseppe Sala disputed IQAir’s designation of the city’s air quality as “unhealthy,” calling it “the usual impromptu analyses made by a private body,” reported The Guardian.

IQAir uses “governmental stations and low-cost sensors owned by citizen scientists around the world: a combined total of over 80,000 locations” in gathering its data, the air quality monitor’s website says.

On Tuesday, the air pollution in Milan and neighboring cities in Italy’s northern Lombardy region triggered measures limiting ultra-polluting vehicles during the busiest daytime hours, Reuters reported. Nearly a third of the country’s population — 17 million people — lives in the region’s Po Valley.

Satellite image captured by the Copernicus Sentinel-3 mission shows smog and mist blanketing the Po Valley on Jan. 29, 2024. European Space Agency

“In Milan you have to try and survive in this swamp for five days a week, and get yourself out for the weekend to get a breath of fresh air,” said former Milan resident Roberto Lorenzutti, who now lives in Sardinia, as reported by Reuters.

In 2020, the European Union Court of Justice found Italy in breach of the EU’s clean air regulations.

The area’s pollution issues come from its industrial and agricultural activities, which are compounded by air being trapped in the valley, according to Valentina Bosetti, a Bocconi University professor of environmental and climate change economics.

A 2023 investigation by The Guardian discovered that more than one-third of residents of the valley and its surrounding areas were breathing air that contained four times the limit set by the World Health Organization (WHO) for the most hazardous airborne particulates.

Despite calling IQAir’s classification of the region “unreliable,” regional environmental protection agency ARPA-Lombardia said the air quality in Milan had recently been above a 2.5 particulate matter (PM) limit, The Guardian reported.

Last year’s levels for PM2.5, nitrogen dioxide (NO2) and PM10 in Milan all breached WHO’s guidelines, said Italian environmental nonprofit organization Legambiente, as reported by Reuters.

Regional councilor for the environment Giorgio Malone said the problem has been going on for a long time, but that over the course of the last two decades there has been a 45 percent reduction of concentrations of NO2 and a 39 percent reduction of PM10, Reuters reported.

Meanwhile, Elena Eva Maria Grandi, environment councilor in Milan, requested more direct cooperation between regional and municipal authorities in evaluating emergency measures to deal with the high pollution levels. Milan is set to co-host the next Winter Olympics in 2026. “Current pollution thresholds are fully unsatisfactory to protect our health, this is what the World Health Organization says,” said Anna Gerometta, president of Italy Citizens for Air, as reported by ABC News.

The post Milan Inundated With High Air Pollution Levels and Smog appeared first on EcoWatch.

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Green Living

13 Sustainable Alcohol Brands to Try at Your Next Party



Last Updated on April 16, 2024

I love entertaining and throwing parties. In fact, I was hosting dinner parties for my friends in high school. During my senior year in high school, my final project in speech class was about tablescaping.

I love making food, drinks, inviting over friends and family – there’s just nothing better.

13 Sustainable Alcohol Brands to Try at Your Next Party

This post was sponsored. All thoughts and opinions are my own; for more information please see my disclosure policy. Some of the links in this post are affiliate links; for more information please see my disclosure policy.

Creating signature cocktails for events is one of my favorite things to do. I recently hosted a prom-themed birthday party for one of my friends and created a signature cocktail called the Prom Queen which was a huge hit! (recipe later in the post)

I think fun drinks are a huge part of get-togethers and events, and I’m not just speaking from experience.

In 2022 alone sales of alcoholic beverages hit $259.8 billion U.S. dollars. This made me wonder, what exactly is alcohol’s environmental impact?

Everything that is produced, transported, and sold has some kind of impact on the planet. Be it haircare, the meal on your plate, or even your alcohol – it all has an impact on our planet’s finite resources.

The biggest impact for alcohol comes from the production process itself: It takes large amounts of water and fertilizer to grow and harvest the grain, grapes, rice, potatoes, and botanicals used in alcohol. Plus, the harvesting and processing of these ingredients uses up resources.

While Justin and I aren’t big drinkers, I do like to have a nice drink or two on special occasions. That’s why I’m glad there are sustainable alcohol brands to choose from that try to lessen their environmental impact.

Here are the best eco-friendly and sustainable alcohol brands on the market. If you like to host parties, or indulge in the occasional cocktail, there’s something for everyone on this list.

13 Sustainable Alcohol Brands to Try at Your Next Party

what is the most sustainable alcohol?

The most sustainable alcohol you can drink uses both ethical and sustainably sourced ingredients, alongside mindful packaging.

Choosing certified organic alcohol is a great option, though not many brands offer this. Michelob Ultra’s organic hard seltzers are one of the few I know about.

Certified organic alcohol ensures products must contain at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients (more on this later).

But there are many other factors to consider when purchasing sustainable alcohol, such as the ingredients, how they were grown and processed, what the packaging looks like, and transportation emissions of said goods.

For example, using lighter packaging like aluminum cans over heavy glass containers can reduce transportation emissions. Or, choosing a locally brewed beer with local ingredients over an international one that was shipped in via air freight has less travel emissions.

In other words, looking for certified organic alcohol is not the only telltale sign of a sustainable alcohol. Instead, looking into alcohol brands that implement eco-friendly practices is a good starting point.

This can mean using sourcing ingredients responsibly, using renewable energy sources, reducing water waste, curbing CO2 emissions, using biodegradable packaging materials, etc.

Here are some qualities to look for in a sustainable alcohol brand:

  • Locally sourced ingredients
  • Ingredients grown without pesticides and herbicides
  • Fair trade and ethical labor practices
  • Easy to recycle or innovative packaging
  • Innovative water waste reduction practices
13 Sustainable Alcohol Brands to Try at Your Next Party

how can we make alcohol more sustainable?

To make alcohol more sustainable, let’s start by discussing how it’s made. 

Alcohol is generally made by putting grains, fruits or vegetables through a process of fermentation. Yeast or bacteria react with the sugars in the other ingredients to produce ethanol (the alcohol in the drink) and carbon dioxide (which can mean the drink bubbles).

Wine and cider are made by fermenting fruit, while beer and spirits are made from fermented cereals such as barley and rye.

Spirits also go through a process called distillation, where a portion of the water is removed, leaving a stronger concentration of alcohol.

However, to create alcohol, usually monocultures (growing just one crop) will be used which harms biodiversity, and soil health. These crops tend to be sprayed with pesticides, fertilizers, and herbicides, all of which contaminate the soil and groundwater.

Ironically, one of the most impactful parts of alcohol production though is the distillation. The water removed from the alcohol to make spirits (aka, higher alcohol content) is often wasted.

For example, the water wasted making tequila creates a highly acidic pulp, called vinazas, which befouls the soil and groundwater in Mexico’s Jailsco region.

As a general rule of thumb, the higher the alcohol content, the higher the carbon footprint. A standard 750ml bottle of alcohol is said to produce around 6.5 pounds of carbon dioxide.

Understanding this, we can make the production of alcohol more sustainable by supporting brands that utilize organic farming and embrace holistic agricultural practices.

So for example, a vineyard that grows grapes for wine can be more sustainable by growing organic grapes, not using pesticides, and finding innovative ways to reduce water waste.

It’s a good idea to intentionally look for brands that prioritize soil health, biodiversity, and overall ecosystem resilience with their farming methods.

We can also support local breweries, wineries, distilleries, and alcohol made in smaller batches.

Here are a few other ways we can sip sustainably:

  • Use public transportation to and from the bar, or carpool with a sober designated driver.
  • Recycle (or upcycle) all the cans and bottles you accumulate. Ex: You can reuse wine bottles as water pitchers or flower vases!
  • Consider buying refillable options such as growlers at breweries or refillable carafes at vineyards.
  • Try to say no to single-use plastic cups by bringing your own cup (a collapsible/portable Stojo cup would fit in most purses). Or, ask your host for a real cup and offer to wash it after using it.
13 Sustainable Alcohol Brands to Try at Your Next Party

what is an organic alcohol?

An organic alcohol is free from chemical pesticides and synthetic fertilizers. For alcohol to have organic certification, it must adhere to strict standards set by the government and the food industry.

In order to achieve the certified organic label, products must contain at least 95 percent organically produced ingredients. They must also use production methods that don’t give off pollution residues, including pesticides, fertilizers, and chemicals that can increase the risk of cancer and other health risks.

While looking for an organic certification is a good idea, it’s not the only thing to look at: You should also look into each brand’s sustainability efforts and how they’re implementing them.

gzw approved sustainable alcohol brands

I’ve rounded up a list of sustainable alcohol brands that get the Going Zero Waste seal of approval. All these brands make alcohol that tastes great and reduces the impact on the planet.

I’ve gone ahead and highlighted some of my favorite features of each brand, but it isn’t an exhaustive list. Be sure to check out their websites for more information.

half shell vodka

1. half shell vodka

  • First spirit in the U.S. to be sold in 94% recycled paperboard bottle which reduces carbon footprint up to 6 times compared to glass bottles
  • Crafted from 100% American corn + filtered through activated coconut carbon + oyster shells
  • Sip for Sustainability event in April where every bottle of their vodka sold from participating liquor stores will contribute towards planting a tree within Longleaf Pine ecosystem

anderson valley brewing company

2. anderson valley brewing company

  • Beer brewing company
  • Solar powered brewery
  • Self-contained water system that returns 100% of waste water back to their property
  • Nitrogen generator to reduce CO2 usage by up to 80%
  • Spent grains and yeast repurposed to feed local cattle
  • 100% plastic-free packaging

pure project brewing

3. pure project brewing

  • Beer brewing company
  • Uses local California grown dry farmed, no-til and organic grain in their beer
  • Implement various waste reduction methods such as eliminating plastic snap packs for to go beer
  • 1% for the planet member
  • Climate neutral certified

flor de cana

4. flor de caña

  • Sustainably produced rum
  • 0g of sugar + gluten free
  • Distilled with 100% renewable energy
  • CO2 emissions during fermentation are captured + recycled
  • Carbon Neutral
  • Fair Trade certified
  • One Tree Planted partner

batiste rum

5. batiste rum

  • Sustainably produced rum
  • Non-plow sugarcane planting + annual harvest without burn or plow
  • Recycle distillery waste used as fertilizer
  • 2.5mgw solar farm for auxiliary power
  • Boiler runs on crushed cane stalk
  • Glass from 100% recycled glass cullet
  • Cartons/labels from recycled carbon and cotton
  • Third party verified carbon negative supply chain

3 amigos tequila

6. 3 amigos tequila

  • Organic blanco tequila
  • Made with 100% blue agave in the highlands of Jalisco
  • Certified organic and kosher
  • Only distilled twice rather than three times
  • Additive-free


7. beeble

  • Honey spirits
  • Europe-based
  • Naturally sweet
  • Local, ethical + sustainably sourced honey
  • B Corp certified

gray whale gin

8. gray whale gin

  • Sustainably produced gin
  • Locally sourced or wild foraged ingredients along the migratory path of the gray whale
  • Designed with organic paint + a biodegradable cork
  • Oceana partner to protect California wildlife
  • 1% For The Planet member

mermaid gin

9. mermaid gin

  • Sustainably produced gin
  • Ten ethically sourced botanicals
  • Hand-crafted on the Isle of Wight, England
  • B Corp certified
  • Plastic-free packaging

woodford reserve

10. woodford reserve

  • Sustainably produced whisky
  • Grain recipe of 72% corn, 18% rye + 10% malted barley
  • 98% of waste material recycled, across all operations
  • 10 acres of land on the Woodford Reserve property dedicated to native grass restoration
  • 97% of food scraps are composted on the Woodford Reserve property

benziger wines

11. benziger wines

  • Sustainably produced wine
  • All wines have third-party certification of green farming practices: Sustainable, organic and biodynamic certifications
  • Sheep, cattle, insectary, birds + gardens play a role in biodynamic farming

st supery

12. st. supery

  • Sustainably produced wine
  • Plants cover crops between vine rows to attract pollinators, discourage weeds, promote soil health + limit erosion
  • Diverse collection of flora and fauna including ducks, geese, etc.
  • Solar arrays offset 94% of the winery’s energy bill
  • Water usage has reduced by 50% in the last 5 years + all process water is recycled

segura viudas

13. segura viudas

  • Sustainably produced wine
  • 800 year old heritage brand
  • Uses grape varieties which are indigenous to the region
  • Biodiverse farming methods that protect the ecosystem
  • Certified as a Winery for Climate Protection
  • Biosphere commitment to sustainable tourism


how do you make a sustainable cocktail?

You can make a sustainable cocktail by using up the ingredients you have on hand, avoiding single-use plastic straws, and finding creative ways to use up less than peak produce. Cocktails offer a unique opportunity to turn some less than peak fruits for muddling, simply syrups, and infusions. Using any of the sustainable alcohol brands listed above in your cocktails also helps!

Here are a few of my favorite cocktails I make for parties and get-togethers.

half shell vodka extra dirty martini

I made this for a friend’s happy hour before heading to the theater, and as the signature cocktail for my murder mystery birthday party!


  • 6 ounces of Half Shell Vodka
  • 1/2 ounce dry Vermouth
  • 1 ounce green olive juice brine
  • 2-3 large jalapeño stuffed green olives
  • ice


  1. Add ice cubes and cold water to a martini glass to chill glass.
  2. Add vodka, vermouth and olive juice into a martini shaker, add ice and shake to chill.
  3. Drain water from martini glass and strain martini from the shaker into the glass.
  4. Add olives for garnish and serve.

the prom queen (a twist on a french 75)

I made this for my friend’s Prom Themed birthday party and we called it the prom queen.

Ingredients for the cocktail:

  • 1 ounce gin
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/2 ounce strawberry basil simple syrup (recipe below)
  • 3 ounces sparkling wine (I used Segura Viudas Cava Brut Rose)
  • Garnish: strawberry or lime twist

Instructions for the cocktail:

  1. Add ice to a pitcher, the cocktail ingredients, then pour in the syrup.
  2. Stir with a spoon, garnish and enjoy!

Ingredients for the simple syrup:

  • The tops from a box of strawberries
  • The juice of a lime and it’s rind
  • Handful of basil stems
  • ½ cup of water
  • ½ cup of sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon of cayenne and black pepper if you’re feeling spicy

Instructions for the simple syrup:

  1. Combine the water, sugar, strawberry tops, lime rind, and cayenne pepper and black pepper in a pot and bring to a simmer so the sugar dissolves.
  2. Reduce the heat and simmer for about 10 minutes.
  3. Add in the basil stems and turn off the heat.
  4. Strain the infused simple syrup and add in the lime juice.

Which of these sustainable alcohol brands would you give a try? Let me know in the comments!

The post 13 Sustainable Alcohol Brands to Try at Your Next Party appeared first on Going Zero Waste.

13 Sustainable Alcohol Brands to Try at Your Next Party

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Green Living

More Than 700 Wildlife Species Discovered in Cambodian Mangrove Forest



In one of the most detailed surveys ever undertaken, hundreds of animal species — from birds to primates to web-footed wildcats — have been discovered in a Cambodian mangrove forest.

Team leader Stefanie Rog — a conservation biologist and senior program manager with Fauna & Flora International, which funded the study — recorded an astounding variety of species at the Peam Krasop sanctuary and adjacent Koh Kapid Ramsar wildlife reserve in Cambodia. Some of the animals they encountered included the critically endangered Sunda pangolin; endangered long-tailed macaques, large-spotted civet and hairy-nosed otters; the vulnerable fishing cat; and 74 fish species, a press release from Fauna & Flora said.

“We found 700 different species in these mangrove forests but we suspect we have not even scratched the surface,” Rog said, as The Guardian reported. “If we could look at the area in even greater depth we would find 10 times more, I am sure.”

The Peam Krasop mangrove forest. FFI R5 / Steph Baker / Fauna & Flora

Mangrove forests are found in tropical and subtropical coastal areas. They are specially adapted to flourish in both salt and brackish water, but 40 percent of them have been decimated in the past few decades due to land use changes such as agriculture and development.

Mangroves provide a variety of ecosystem services, such as acting as fish nurseries and reducing the impact of storm surges and the resulting damage to coastlines.

“We found young barracudas, snappers and groupers in the waters here,” Rog said, as reported by The Guardian. “They are clearly important breeding places for fish and provide local communities with food as well as providing stock for commercial fisheries.”

The survey was led by Fishing Cat Ecological Enterprise and Fauna & Flora, along with the Royal University of Agriculture’s faculty of fisheries and aquaculture and the Ministry of Environment.

The survey team conducted their field research during the dry and wet seasons of 2023. They set 57 camera traps across the protected area over 4,000 trap nights, the report said.

The experts also carried out targeted surveys that focused on reptiles, bats, amphibians, juvenile fish, invertebrates and plants.

“[T]hese results evidence an important array of wildlife in need of protection,” the report said. “Overall, priority should be given to maintaining forest condition and cover within the sanctuary, since the loss of older, larger trees (which typically provide more cavities, hollows and crevices) particularly threatens foliage-roosting species, whereas fragmentation of mature forest stands erodes the connectivity between suitable habitat. Cleared areas of mixed mangrove that have been abandoned should be left to regenerate naturally, as these areas are connected to natural seedling recruitment. Protection and patrolling activities should be conducted regularly in order to make sure that no further disturbance to these areas takes place.”

The rare fishing cat has webbed toes, which the large feline uses to swim through waters surrounding the mangroves, from which they hunt for fish and rats.

A fishing cat in the Peam Krasop wildlife sanctuary. Fauna & Flora / FCEE

“It’s very rare to see a fishing cat and we have only found out that they are in the forest from the photo­graphs taken by our camera traps,” Rog said, as The Guardian reported. “Mangroves are places of roots and mud and they are difficult for humans to get into, which is why they provide precious sanctuaries for these vulnerable animals.”

The survey found 150 bird species, 15 of which are on the International Union for Conservation of Nature’s Red List as near-threatened or endangered.

“A mangrove forest relies on all the interconnected relationships between species and if you start taking away some of those species, then slowly you will lose the functioning of the forest,” Rog said, as reported by The Guardian. “[Mangrove forests] are so much more than just an ecosystem that provides a carbon-saving service or coastal protection. They are actually beautiful in their own right. For me, there is no better feeling than to be in this unique, mythical forest, knowing there is still so much more to explore – that there is another world waiting for further discovery.”

The researchers said calling attention to some of the incredible diversity of species who live in this watery wonderland can help support conservation and future investigation of a uniquely rich ecosystem.

“The results provided in this report, while an incomplete picture of the area’s biodiversity, highlight the conservation value of the Peam Krasop/Koh Kapik mangrove forests, and can serve to underpin stronger management of the area, as well as inform initiatives such as eco-tourism and further research,” the report said.

The post More Than 700 Wildlife Species Discovered in Cambodian Mangrove Forest appeared first on EcoWatch.

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Green Living

Greece to Invest $830 Million for Marine Conservation 



Prime Minister of Greece Kyriakos Mitsotakis has announced plans to invest 780 million euros (about $829 million) for marine conservation and pollution cleanup. The country will pursue 21 marine conservation initiatives with the money.

As reported by Reuters, some of the initiatives will include the development of two marine parks: one will be located in the Ionian Sea, and the other park will be established in the Aegean Sea. The exact borders will be determined following a scientific review, expected to be complete by 2025. The parks will cover about 32% of the country’s waters, Reuters reported.

The prime minister is expected to share more details on the country’s marine conservation plans during the Our Ocean conference, taking place in Athens from April 15 through April 17.

According to the Our Ocean conference website, the conference will focus on sustainable shipping and tourism as well as ways to minimize and clean up marine plastics and microplastics. The conference will also address offshore renewable energy.

“Quietly but methodically, Greece is playing a leading role in the defence against dramatic climate changes, which are proven to affect every region and every activity,” Mitsotakis said, as reported by the eKathimerini newspaper.

With 29,417 islands and over 20,700 kilometers (over 12,862 miles) of coastline, Greece relies on the seas surrounding its islands. Marine conservation is important for the country’s culture and economy, but Mitsotakis also noted that efforts to protect the seas around Greece will contribute to the country’s efforts to curb the effects of climate change.

Marine waters are an important carbon sink, absorbing about 25% of carbon emissions and trapping 90% of heat from these carbon emissions, according to the United Nations. Further, these waters provide about 50% of our oxygen.

However, increasing carbon emissions from human activities mean oceans are absorbing more carbon and trapping more heat, causing problems such as record-high sea surface temperatures, ocean acidification and coral bleaching and die-offs.

In addition to the impacts of climate change, marine waters are threatened by plastic and microplastic pollution, which can disrupt ecosystems as marine life mistake pollution for food. Chemical runoff further threatens marine biodiversity.

Greece plans to address some of these ocean conservation and climate concerns through Marine Protected Areas, sustainable fisheries, offshore wind development, enhanced maritime security, decarbonization of maritime transportation and sustainable tourism models. Greece also plans to reduce plastic pollution by 50% and microplastic pollution by 30% by the end of this decade.

“Decreasing plastic pollution and accelerating the transition to a circular economy is the way forward,” Our Ocean reported in a press release. “The Our Ocean Conference supports the shift towards a more holistic approach to prevent and control anthropogenic pollution that ends up in the ocean. Joint efforts, synergies and cooperation between all involved stakeholders are needed to turn the tide.”

The post Greece to Invest $830 Million for Marine Conservation  appeared first on EcoWatch.

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