Giving leftovers second life
While going organic was a no-brainer for Evanow, the entrepreneur chose rye over other common vodka feedstocks such as corn and potatoes for its rich flavor profile, saying a bolder flavor seemed to be a better fit for her garden-inspired brand.
“I like the flavor of rye; I think it has a little bit more character, especially in the straight version,” Evanow said. “I wanted something with a little bite and flavor to it.”
Coincidentally, choosing rye for Square One vodkas makes leftover components even easier to reuse. Rye is rich in fiber, gluten and protein – components that aren’t needed for vodka distillation but are valuable for other purposes, presenting the perfect opportunity for pragmatic reuse.
After extracting starch from organic rye feedstocks, Square One distillers set aside fiber, gluten and proteins and use these unneeded components to produce cattle feed – which is then sold to local farmers. Selling rye leftovers not only brings in extra revenue for Square One, but also provides local farmers with top-quality, protein-rich feed for livestock, Evanow said.
Since the Square One production process is intentionally designed to produce both tasty spirits and cattle feed, the feed that distillers produce is technically referred to as a coproduct, not a byproduct. Distillery leftovers that are too toxic to reuse as food are disposed of as waste in accordance with EPA standards, Evanow said.
“There are certain components of the distillation that are very volatile, very bad chemicals that happen as a natural process of fermentation and distillation,” she explained. “And you wouldn’t want anybody to eat that, not cattle or anything else.”
Square One is able to utilize almost all components of organic rye feedstocks, but that’s not the only way the company encourages reuse.
Square One Packaging: Designed with reuse in mind
“When we designed the bottle I wanted to give people the opportunity and the option to reuse the bottle before they actually recycle it,” Evanow said. “The idea was to create a bottle that, when you strip it of its labeling components, is a beautiful, unbranded, stylish bottle that you can use for some other purpose.”
Square One customers have reused their old bottles for olive oil, vinegar and homemade salad dressings, and the company reuses their own empties for mixers at promotional events, Evanow told Earth911. Empty Square One bottles even found their way into reuse as bar lights at Gather, a tasty and trendy organic eatery in the Bay Area.
In keeping with its eco-friendly sentiments, Square One also uses recycled content and plant-based paper in its labeling. Made from bamboo pulp, sugarcane and cotton, face labels on the bottle are “tree-free” and printed with soy-based inks. Side labeling is also made from partially recycled paper.