All posts by Eddie Kirsch

The (Environmental) Horror!

By Eddie Kirsch

Gulf Sounds flier
Happy Halloween!

Sustain Mizzou is hosting a benefit concert at the Blue Fugue called Gulf Sounds. Here is a little information regarding the concert:

When: Wednesday, November 3 — 8:30pm to 1:00am
Location: The Blue Fugue, 120 S 9th St., Columbia, MO
What to expect: People will pay $5 at the door and spend the rest of the evening dancing, chilling and having a good time.  Volunteers will sell raffle tickets to win gift certificates to all sorts of sweet places in the district (including a $50 gift card to Flat Branch Pub and Brewery).  They will also sell t-shirts and poster prints.  All of the money raised throughout the night will be donated to an organization of your choice:

1. National Wildlife Federation (wildlife)
2. Environmental Defense Fund (environment)
3. Greater New Orleans Foundation (community)”

If you need a little refresher on why the Gulf Oil Spill, here are five scary & interesting facts, in the spirit of Halloween:

1. According to the most recent data, a total of 6104 birds, 609 Sea Turtles and 100 mammals have been found dead.

2. According to, BP was celebrating safety on the Deepwater Horizon exactly when it exploded.From the website:
“In a curious twist, BP chose April 20 as the date for an onboard party to commemorate “Deepwater Horizon going for seven years without an accident.” A number of company executives reportedly flew out to the rig to take part in the festivities. The natural gas explosion that killed 11 crew members and eventually sank the rig ‘blew out the wall leading to the galley, where [the] party was being held.'”

3. According to, “205 million gallons spewed into the gulf over 87 days”.

4. From, “Approximately 93 miles of Gulf Coast shoreline are currently experiencing moderate to heavy oil impacts-approximately 86 miles in Louisiana, 6 miles in Mississippi and less than two miles in Alabama and Florida.”

5. According to USA Today, by Oct. 1, BP had spent $11.2 billion on the Gulf oil spill

Product review: Southern Tier 422 Pale Wheat Ale

*Note: This entry does not reflect the opinion of Sustain Mizzou. An adult of legal age consumed this beer in an off-campus apartment.

By Eddie Kirsch

$7.99 per six pack
Where: Hy-Vee, 3100 West Broadway
Features: Package made of 80% recycled material, “All natural ingredients”
What the web says: “422 is brewed as a tribute to preserving our precious planet and it’s environment. It is responsibly packaged with over 80% recycled consumer products and is completely recyclable. Enjoy 422 all year as to take one stride closer to an eco-friendly life.”

I’m not sure what you’ve heard, but Missouri likes to drink. In 2007 (most recent data), the per capita ethanol consumption for Missouri was 2.41 gallons. That year alone, Missouri spent $2.6 billion on booze.

This is why eco-friendly spirits are important. However, there aren’t too many brands supporting an environmentally conscience brew. Southern Tier is one of the few. Underneath the 422 pale wheat ale label, it says, “make every day earth day!” and decorating the product’s box are suggestions on how to live an eco-friendly life. Kudos to some of their suggestions, however, I don’t think I’ll be taking “group showers” any time soon.

So what makes this beer eco-friendly? It is packaged in 80% “recycled consumer products” (according to their website) and is “completely recyclable”. I, along with my roommate and a friend, decided to give the beer a shot. Here’s (probably) everything you’d want to know about it:

Color: Despite the brown ale appearance, the actual color of the beer is a light, golden yellow

There was very little when pouring the beer into a glass, I would probably say about a finger’s worth of head.

Aroma: Again, the aroma was fairly faint. If anything, it was a little sweet, but you had to almost stick your nose in the liquid to smell much.

Taste: The wheat ale had a light body; not bitter, or not sour. It was really light in flavor as a whole, a little reminiscent of beers such as Rolling Rock. It finished with hardly any after taste.

As a whole it wasn’t bad, maybe like a 6.5/10. My friend remarked that he really enjoyed it. I thought it was okay, slightly better than the average beer.

My question is how much more eco-friendly is the product actually? Although I admit I don’t know what much about the ingredients of beer and their relative benefits or hazards to the environment, it doesn’t seem like they were any different than a typical beer.

Does Fair Trade make sense?

By Eddie Kirsch

This video of course is a bit sensationalized, but I think it does a pretty good job of explaining the mission and goal of fair trade (it is endorsed by TransFair USA, the United States member of Fair Trade Labeling Organizations International)

I find this video quite enjoyable, but if you don’t, you can really get the gist of it by about two minutes in:

“Clearly farmers are the big winners in a Fair Trade model. They’re making more money, they are doing it in a way that requires them to develop business skills, they are becoming much more sustainable and independent…”  — Paul Rice, CEO/Founder of TransFair USA.

It seems as if fair trade is great — but not everyone is convinced. Notable publications such as the Science Christian Monitor and the BBC have both published articles coming down that the movement, and they have points. How viable is fair trade as a sustainable market system? How much is it actually helping farmers? As Steve Daley, worker for Worldwrite, says in a BBC article, “How can a few extra pennies a day from Fairtrade be celebrated as an outstanding achievement for the poor?”

Beyond the fair trade debate, this gets as an interesting question: How do we involve morals and fair play into economics, when the goal of a free market system is to maximize profits, and minimize costs? Is it possible to create a fair, sustainable, global market system?