Sustainability has become something of a buzzword when it comes to the mainstream marketplace, however initiatives like The Green Hustle from Absolut Vodka show that small changes can make a tremendous impact. With bars in the UK alone generating 800,000 tons of waste every year, Bex Almqvist, Co-Creator of The Green Hustle and the Global Marketing Manager On Trade at Absolut Vodka, has pinpointed a series of methods that bars all over the globe can take to reduce their footprints. To find out more, Trend Hunter spoke with Almqvist to get a deeper understanding of how The Green Hustle kicked off, and what both bars and consumers can do to help.
What inspired you to start The Green Hustle?
The Green Hustle was such a fun project to launch. I have been with Absolut for 10 years, and one of the main reasons I’m still sticking around is because we have the most energy efficient distillery in the world, as well as one of the only One Source vodkas. I don’t have to make up stories or lie – I can open the doors to the distillery and be transparent about all the amazing things that happen here.
A few years ago, we started collaborating with really cool people who promote various sustainable practices in the bar environment. This got us thinking about what we could do to help after our vodka had left the distillery. That’s how The Green Hustle came about. We wanted to share our enthusiasm and perhaps some of our hard-learned lessons by supporting a movement that will undoubtedly start to make a difference in the world where our vodka lives.
What’s the impact you hope that it has on the industry?
Our goal is to change the way the industry operates for the better, through sustainable practices. We are doing this by showcasing sustainable ready-to-implement tools and benefits in a fun and inspiring way with a tone of voice that bartenders can relate to. We’re also trying to show that the topic of sustainability does not need to be boring and is not about compromising.
We want to raise awareness on the topic and inspire people to start their own little green hustles. Swedish glass recycling, for example, is best in the world, and is where over 90% of all of our glass is recycled. That is amazing. I think it’s partly to do with convenience and the infrastructure we have.
One of my dreams would be that in the end, so many bars are getting involved that it will drive change in communities and actions towards building infrastructure around recycling and food waste. If we can make it easier for bars and the general public to recycle, it will lead to great change.
What are a few ways that bars can become more sustainable? What’s the importance of making these changes now?
The Green Hustle offers many different hacks on how you can become more sustainable. For example, we encourage bartenders to use ingredients to their full potential, rather than throwing things away that could be used for other purposes. It can be anything from avocado pits, watermelon rind, skin and blast from a pineapple, or citrus husks.
A great example of how to use ingredients to the full is to make citrus stock. Normally, after you have juiced a lime or a lemon, you would throw the citrus husk away. We show bartenders on a global scale how you can stretch the amount of citrus you would normally get by 50% more. This helps both from a food waste perspective and a bar’s bottom line, since you would need to buy 50% less citrus. The recipe for citrus stock works with any type of citrus, however we offer a guide on how to make one with limes.
You’ve stated that small actions can make a big impact when it comes to shifting to more sustainable practices, how can consumers help to drive this kind of change in their communities?
The most important thing you can do as a consumer to support a more sustainable bar practice is to be aware of the problem of bar waste. The next time you are in the bar, make sure to skip the straw and the napkin and encourage your bartender to stop throwing things away. I don’t want to be the one telling other bartenders what to do, but we’ve got to start somewhere!