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Sober Curious? Here's Why Alcohol Alternatives Are a Sustainable Choice

Fans of a no-buzz buzz are coming for traditional cocktail hour—and for good reason. Here's how the sober curious movement benefits the environment.

sober curious
Written by
Calin Van Paris
"Sober curious" is a phrase that's been gaining major clout over the last couple of years. Perhaps a pendular response to the pandemic's at-home happy hours, the
currently sits at 491.4 million views on TikTok; many restaurants now boast a robust selection of
alcohol-free drinks
; and a bevy of beverage brands are cropping up to meet the demand for a buzz-free buzz.
"With the popularity of
culture, public sentiment is changing around alcohol," says Madeleine Voge, co-founder and creative director of natural sparkling water brand
Aura Bora
. "Folks are paying more attention to their bodies and how terrible they feel when they drink. And there's science to back it up—beyond its addictive qualities, alcohol has tremendously brutal effects on our bodies and minds."

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Aside from its numerous health benefits, it turns out that rethinking our collective relationship with alcohol may be the more sustainable route, as well.
Even light or occasional drinking comes with its share of
health hazards
, including an increased potential for injury, weakened immunity, high blood pressure, and more. And in terms of the environment, alcohol production's footprint includes ample
water runoff
, along with the waste and emissions that come with packaging and distribution.
Brands like
Aura Bora
Three Spirit
, and more are helping to shift the narrative around sustainable sipping, offering alcohol-free options crafted from thoughtfully sourced ingredients, and with consideration of environmental impact.
sober curious
Aura Bora relies on recyclable packaging and is a member of
1% for the Planet
(meaning that 1% of sales are directed to non-profits devoted to conservation and climate action), while Three Spirit is a certified B Corp, favoring recycled and
plastic-free packaging
and ingredients that are sustainable, vegan, and cruelty-free.
But the real tie between sobriety and sustainability is all down to conscious consumption—and increased

"Sobriety is a rejection of overconsumption, and it means turning your back on an industry that often burdens the environment, the healthcare system, and our collective mental health," says Voge. "I'm hesitant to put the onus on individual consumers for their carbon footprint when larger corporations benefit from that narrative, but a more sober culture will mean a more thoughtful, physically and mentally well, sustainable future for all of us."
Thomasin Lockwood of Three Spirit agrees. "As a business, it’s to actively pursue practices that protect the preservation of the planet; as an individual, I think it’s taking responsibility for the small things and looking to change both habits and products," she says. "I think being conscious of the preservation of your surroundings can make you look internally, and vice versa."