Photo by Mert Guller


Whalebird Kombucha




Environmental Statement 


Whalebird is deeply committed to implementing sustainable alternatives in our work environment. As an up-and-coming business we believe it is our responsibility to help set a new standard for what is considered acceptable business practices. In short, this means always considering the bigger picture, not just how the numbers come in at the end of the month. We will spend more, and make less in order to do so. We figure that additional spending is ultimately being invested in something we can’t live without. Our planet. Our playground. 


We strive to incorporate sustainability into every possible aspect of the business, both internally and externally. Our goals consist of reducing the amount of materials we consume, consuming only thoughtfully selected materials and disposing of them in an environmentally conscious manner. We have and will continue to conduct extensive research in order to educate ourselves and the local community about adoptable green alternatives. We hope the incentives we offer through our growler club will encourage other local companies to get on board with the GreenBiz program.

Incentives for other businesses to get certified


We are very proud to be one of the first GreenBiz certified companies in SLO County. We hope to be joined by many of the other great business in our community and intend to encourage with discounts at our business. We are very proud to offer free growler club memberships to all employees of GreenBiz certified companies. Take a card on the display board and get a hold of Cory Jones to find out how to get the process started. It’s probably easier than you think!


Table of Contents


I. Utility Efficiency by Water and Power Reduction

EyeDro Implementation for Energy Efficiency

Reverse Osmosis Recovery

Led lights exclusively

Water Conservation in Production and Bathroom sinks. 

Computer sleep settings


II. Greener Operations and Distribution

Reusable Kegs

Refillable Growlers

Cans VS Glass

Plastic Wrap Solution


III. Environmentally Preferable Purchasing

Using ‘’

Unbleached, chlorine free bathroom products 

Remanufactured copier toner cartridges

Recycled paper


IV. Toxins and Waste Reduction

Alternative Transportation

Rechargeable Batteries

Non-chemical Cleaning Products

Eliminating Chemical and Aerosolized Air Fresheners

Reducing Consumption of Paper Towels

Protecting Storm Drains

Reusable dishware

Two sided printing 

Styrofoam Free 


V. Proper Waste Disposal

Sufficient Recycling and Compost Containers

Composted Raw Ingredients

Universal waste program

Recycling Electronics



I. Utility Efficiency by Water and Power Reduction


EyeDro Implementation for Energy Efficiency

Monitoring power usage can be a difficult thing due to the lack of visibility available. Usually you just receive a bill and eat the cost without much idea where it’s coming from. This is something that troubled us and we wanted to improve in this department. 


We found a product called Eyedro Electricity Monitoring Systems. These units monitor individual pieces of equipment and are easy for the DIYer to install. Using the easy to navigate interface we now had full transparency of how equipment was operating and functioning together.  Below is a graph of some equipment power usage:



Highlights of improvement we made from visible data:

  1. We noticed our heating and cooling equipment were competing. Since they are separate systems, we could see that sometimes our cooling and heating equipment were overlapping and competing with each other. We were able to tune them so they no longer did, saving tons of energy. 

  2. Evaluate how much money we were spending on heat in different parts of the building and make educated decisions about insulating those areas better on an individual basis.

  3. Discover that our 10 ton glycol chiller was cycling on frequently and for short durations. This enabled us to invest in more glycol so we could fill the reservoir completely. This will reduce the power used and extend the life of our machine by running longer and less frequently.

  4. Evaluate the return on investment for waste heat recovery systems from our glycol chiller. This unit puts out a lot of wasted heat when operating that we could re-purpose for several operations in our facility that require heat. Using the Eyedro devices, we can see how much waste heat is available and how much heat we’re using in different areas of our operations. This allows us to make intelligent and tuned decisions about re-purposing the heat. It also allows us to calculate an accurate return on investment for the equipment needed to recover and dispense the waste heat where it’s needed.

  5. Compare efficiency of our cold storages. We have two areas that maintain 36F for cold storage of our kegs. We can tell that our refrigerated box container is using about 2x as much power per keg as our other walk in cold room. This will certainly help with future decisions when we need to expand our cold storage again.

  6. Calculate cost of marketing materials we make on our laser etcher. By monitoring the power consumption of the laser, we can accurately tell how much each sign or tap handle is costing us from an energy cost standpoint. Without this information we could never determine a price per unit and consider that cost in larger financial planning.


We were blown away by how many other improvements we made when our eyes were opened to how we were utilizing our energy in the brewery. We encourage you to do the same. Here’s what the device looks like:


Each unit costs about $150 on and gives you visibility to 2 pieces of equipment. If this is out of the budget, you can also borrow similar device from PG&E.


Reverse Osmosis Recovery

We invested in a state of the art RO system so we can bring you the best booch possible. It is already amongst the most efficient available producing 2 gallons of pure H2O for every .75 gallons of leachate. This leachate is concentrated with all of the salts, minerals, and other contaminates removed from the water, and is not useable in many grey water applications. The good news is toilets don’t mind it! We have installed a 250 gallon holding tank at elevation so gravity does the work to feed our toilets with 100% waste water. We estimate this saves 4,000 – 6,000 gallons per month.


LED lights exclusively

The Whalebird facility has become completely LED powered and we have shaved approximately 70% off of our power requirements for lighting our building.


Water Conservation in Production and Bathroom Sinks 

Some small changes can go a long way. We’ve replaced the sink aerators in our brewing area with low flow nozzles that reduce flow to 1 gallon per minute. Bathrooms have been choked down to .25 gallons per minute. We still have high flow water available for production where it’s needed, but the reduced flow rates in the sinks have not been a burden at all and we are saving a lot of water. Spiraling aerators fan the water out and go a long way with a small amount of water. We’d highly suggest!



Computer Sleep Settings

It’s really amazon how much power is consumed by electronics sitting idle. One of the main changes we’ve made to combat this is set all of our computers and monitors to go to sleep after 5 minutes of inactivity.


II. Greener Operations and Distribution


Reusable Kegs

We’ve invested a fair amount of capital in a large stainless steel keg fleet. Stainless kegs preserve the quality of the Kombucha better than plastic kegs and can be reused for years. Many breweries have switched to plastic, one time use kegs for cost savings and simplified operations. We deal with it.





Refillable Growlers


Our Growler Club Program was an initiative created years ago to reward reuse of our signature glass growlers. We now have several hundred members refilling each week from our tap room and other retailers that carry our Kombucha on draft. 





Cans VS Glass


There’s no use beating around the bush when talking about single use beverage vessels. They contribute to our waste problem and their production and distribution produces more greenhouse gases than draft distribution does. Especially if your drinking at the brewery that produces it. That’s why we are so stoked to have over 300 growler club members coming into our brewery to fill up each week. 


But convenience is key, and we had to decide which type of packaging we’d prefer to use when reaching our booch lovers outside of our town. We chose cans for their ability to block harmful sunlight from degrading product, and for their reduced environmental impact. Here’s a passage from that sums it up:


“You probably know this already, but cans are a lot lighter than bottles. That means they have a smaller carbon footprint than glass (20% more greenhouse gasses than a can), but also that they take less cardboard to hold and transport. Furthermore, cans are made with much more recycled content than glass bottles (at 20%). According to The Aluminum Association, cans are typically made with 70 percent recycled content, and people recycle their cans 20 percent more often than they recycle glass.”


Plastic Wrap Solution

When shipping kegs, it is standard to use plastic stretch wrap (and a lot of it) to hold kegs securely during transportation. This plastic wrap is rarely recycled. We didn’t like this, so we found a better way. 


We found that if we staggered the amount of kegs in each row, the kegs would interlock together and hold their square shape securely with just a couple straps for support. No more plastic needed, and the straps are reusable. Plus we fit 3 more kegs on each pallet!





III. Environmentally Preferable Purchasing


Using ‘’

Shop on Amazon much? Next time, add ‘smile’ to the beginning:

This will redirect you to the same page you’ve always used, but now a portion of the money you spend will be donated to a charity of your choice. Remember you have to go to this URL every time for it to count, so make it a habit! 


Unbleached, chlorine free paper 

Our bathrooms are stocked with 100% recycled and unbleached paper products.


Here’s some in depth information about how to properly source good products:

“UNBLEACHED”- Recycled Papers that have NOT been re-bleached


“PROCESSED CHLORINE-FREE”- Recycled papers bleached with oxygen, ozone or hydrogen peroxide instead of chlorine chemicals 


“TOTALLY CHLORINE-FREE”- Non-recycled papers bleached with oxygen, ozone or hydrogen peroxide instead of chlorine chemicals


“ELEMENTAL CHLORINE-FREE”- Papers bleached with chlorine dioxide instead of chlorine gas. These chemicals still contain chlorine, so this process still produces dioxins!


Our need for white paper is learned behavior, bleached paper feels cleaner to us but only because we are conditioned to think so. Actual bleach (sodium hypochlorite) is harmful to our skin and to the environment in the way that it is processed. The price of these products relies completely on the needs of the market, through supply and demand. It is up to us to purchase responsible products and as we do, the price will come down through economies of scale. Sources:




Remanufactured copier toner cartridges

In an effort to purchase previously used and recycled goods, our printers are now equipped with remanufactured toner cartridges.  


Smarter Cartridge in Arroyo Grande is a perfect local option for repurposed printing and office goods.

(888) 777-9986 


Recycled paper


Our office printer in the warehouse is also decked out with some 100% recycled paper to go with those remanufactured cartridges.


Paper is often different than described in color, two sided printability, flimsiness and in actual recycled content, certain certifications have been criticized for financial connections to the paper industry. An example of this is the Sustainable Forestry Initiative (SFI) which does not exactly meet the requirements for responsible forestry management. The U.S. Green Building Council voted against accepting the SFI certification. 


Qualities to Look For:


+ Suitable for ‘multipurpose’ use (preferred). 

+ Suitable for general ‘copy’ use. 

+ Suitable for fax and laser inkjet printer use. 

+ Made of recycled paper materials. 

+ Made of 100% recycled paper materials / fibers (preferred). 

+ Made of 100% post-consumer recycled materials / fibers (most preferred). 

+ Made of ‘tree-free’, recycled agro-industrial waste (for select ‘tree-free’ paper products). + 100% biodegradable. + 100% recyclable. 

+ Acid-free. + Elemental chlorine free (ECF) (preferred). 

+ Forest Stewardship Council (FSC) Certified (preferred). 

+ Sustainable Forestry Initiative Certified (preferred). 

+ Made involving environmentally low impact, eco friendly practices, such as renewable energy facilities. 

+ White or bright white paper stock. 

+ 8.5 x 11 stock size.

 + Quality assurance tested to be jam-free for general printer use. 

+ Made in the USA (preferred). 

+ Brands that value sustainability and social responsibility. 

+ Well reviewed by customers (i.e., when reviews available via company or seller website). 



Qualities to Avoid:


– Animal products and animal byproducts. 

– Non sustainable paper materials / fibers.

– Non biodegradable paper materials. 

– Non recyclable paper materials. 

– Conventional, commercial copy paper made without recycled contents / fibers. 

– Color paper stock. 

– Lined paper stock. 

– Acid washed paper products. 

– Paper stock outside the 8.5 x 11 size. 

– Products with a high number of bad reviews. Understanding these terms 


Here are some definitions of terms used in the paper industry:

RECYCLED – this is an easy one: When paper is recycled and turned back into paper, we refer to that as recycled paper. This is in contrast to virgin paper that is made exclusively from trees and has no recycled content. The primary environmental benefit of using recycled instead of virgin paper is that it reduces the need to cut down trees in order to make more paper. 


POST CONSUMER WASTE – this refers to paper that has reached the end consumers (all of us who are using paper and then tossing it in our recycle bins) and then been turned back into paper. The difference between the recycled paper mentioned above and post-consumer waste paper is that the recycled paper may not have reached the end consumer; for example, it can include paper that was trimmed in the paper mills and then turned into paper again, so that it is recycled paper but contains no post- consumer waste. Paper that contains post-consumer waste will clearly state it on the labeling. 


RECYCLABLE – this is the sneakiest of the paper industry’s marketing ploys. Some brands use hit words like “recyclable paper, recyclable materials, the recycled symbol, and SFI certification” – but no recycled content. They label their paper as either being recyclable or made from recyclable materials in order to intentionally mislead consumers into thinking that they’re buying a product made from recycled content. Basically, they’re just telling you that paper is recyclable – that it can be recycled – but we already know that! 


PROCESSED CHLORINE FREE/UNBLEACHED – this means that bleach was not used to make the paper white. The ubiquitous white copy paper that we find in every office has traditionally required bleach in order to give it its white appearance. However, using bleach is not good for the environment, and now there are papers that are processed without bleach. If the paper you purchase was processed chlorine-free, this will be stated on the package. To be ethical costs money but we see it as an investment in our environment! 



Chemical Cleaning Products


IV. Toxins and Waste Reduction


Alternative Transportation

Whalebird Kombucha is an active member in the Back ‘N’ Forth club, which offers rideshare opportunities for small businesses like us! We also encourage our employees to bike to work when possible, and provide outdoor and indoor bike storage and locks.




Rechargeable Batteries

We’ve ditched one time use alkaline batteries and have a recharge station. We also have a battery disposal bin so employees can drop off spent batteries here, and we can make sure they’re properly disposed of.




Cleaning Products

Toxic products like Triclosan damage our environment when they are made and used. They also have the potential to be hazardous to employees. Because of this, we avoid using products like Triclosan and take the precaution of researching the products we use to see if they can be improved upon or need to be removed.

We make it very clear to our employees which substances must be handled with care and what the proper safety protocol and necessary equipment is for each product. Below is a list of our cleaning products and their degree of hazard:

Citric Acid – light risk to eyes, eye protection required. No environmental impact

Bentonite –  no risk, no environmental impact 

Trisodium Phosphate – Some environmental impact, used sparingly. Dangerous if inhaled or exposed – respirator, eye protection, and gloves required.

Star San – some potential environmental concern, used sparingly. No risk to employees.

PBW – No environmental impact, irritation to skin on impact, gloves required

Sodium Hydroxide – No environmental impact, irritation to skin on impact, gloves required

Phenolphthalein – No risk, no environmental impact


Eliminating Chemical and Aerosolized Air Fresheners

We’ve ditched the spray cans for some real hippy stuff. Burning Palo-Santo and Sage in restrooms is a natural alternative to aerosol sprays and smells sooooooo much better!



Reducing Consumption of Paper Towels

In an effort to consume paper towels as little as possible, we integrated a color coded rag system. Light blue for clean/production use only and dark blue for the heavier messes. We only use paper towels for messes that would ruin our rags. The rags are stored and washed separately.




Protecting Storm Drains

Nothing goes down our storm drains except for water. We strive to make sure any cleaning solutions we use, non-toxic as they may be, make it to the wastewater facility so they can be handled properly. We’ve also clearly labeled the drains so our neighbors are aware too.



Reusable Dishware

Our cafeteria is equipped with re-usable dishware and utensils to reduce waste coming from our lunch breaks. You’ve got to love these rad sporks! 



Two Sided Printing

Every computer in the Whalebird facility has it print setting set to ‘Two sided printing’ to cut down on paper usage.


Styrofoam Free 

Styrofoam is forever and we don’t bother with it. It was a hard thing to commit to since Kombucha must remain cold in transit/shipping and Styrofoam has traditionally been the only consumable style of insulated packaging. We’ve passed up on some easy sales using a ‘direct to consumer’ type of distribution since the Styrofoam burden would be tremendous. 


We researched alternatives to Styrofoam and found an amazing solution brought to you by Ecovate ( Their solution utilizes mycelium (fungi) to grow packaging in a matter of days that has comparable insulative properties to styrofoam!


V. Proper Waste Disposal


Sufficient Recycling and Compost Containers

Even with the best intentions, it is easy to toss something in the garbage that could recycled if it is more convenient. We combat these temptations by making all options equally convenient. And it’s been working great!



Composted Raw Ingredients

Almost all of the ingredients used in the brewery are composted! This includes SCOBY, spent tea, and the rest of the organic ingredients we use for individual flavors. Unfortunately, we are still looking for better disposal options for our organic Mango/Guava puree since it is too saturated to compost. Let us know if you have any ideas for us!

Universal Waste Bins

We are working with our local waste facilities to dispose of e-waste and hazardous waste in the most responsible ways we can. We also encourage employees to bring in their hazardous waste so we can get it to the right spot. We do this because we know it’s a pain for individuals to make special runs to the e-waste facilities for single items like paint containers or aerosol cans. Bringing it to work is a lot more convenient, and convenience is key to good waste disposal/recycling systems.



Recycling Electronics

When electronic devices go caput, they still have a lot to offer in the form of recyclability. We keep ours out of landfills collecting and delivering to proper recycling locations. We also encourage our employees to bring in their spent electronics so we can get them where they need to be. Our local recycling facility:


The Achievement House – San Luis Obispo: (805) 543-9383

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