Here in Santa Barbara County, Earth Day is a big deal – the city hosts a festival with an eco-marketplace, live music performances, and even guest speakers such as Bill Nye (you know, the science guy!). Several non-profit and socially conscious brand representatives educated visitors about how they can positively impact the planet every day, not just on April 22. At Ascendant Spirits, we also believe that Earth Day is every day.
Our distillery was founded in Buellton because of its proximity to fresh and organic produce. Using local ingredients enhances the taste of our products, eliminates our need to transport items thousands of miles across the country, and ensures that our fruit is grown using sustainable farming techniques. We regularly visit Goodland Organics in Goleta and Innovative Produce in Santa Maria to speak with the farmers about each harvest and to build relationships within our local community.
From the beginning, we have strived to use technologies that reduce our impact on the planet. For example, all of our machines are powered by steam, and we could easily just dump the water down the drain once we finished one distilling run. Instead, we collect and recycle it through our boiler to create steam again for the next run. This substantially limits the amount of water we extract from this drought-prone region (actual numbers will be coming soon; we haven’t received our first utilities statement yet!). We also have found some interesting uses for some of the waste that is generated from the distillation process, which includes grains, acetone and methanol.
The grains we use (corn, barley, and rye) are left behind once the ethanol evaporates during distillation process. This grain mash is not particularly useful to us, but we found someone just down the road who can’t get enough of it – a local pig farmer! Since the ethanol completely evaporates out, the mash is the perfect blend of grains for a healthy pig diet. Acetone and methanol are separate byproducts of the distillation process and if consumed they can cause blindness or even fatality. Obviously, we keep these compounds far from our end products, but these are not useless substances. Acetone is an effective cleaning solvent that we use to wash our floors. Methanol is one of the cleanest burning fuels on the market, and we have future plans to convert our forklift to be run exclusively on it. This not only reduces the effect on the atmosphere, but eliminates the amount of waste generated on premise.
Today, we raise our glasses to all of our partners who have helped us reach some of our sustainability goals and we cannot wait to find new ways to reduce our impact even more. From Ascendant Spirits – Happy Earth Day!