Cocktail-loving tree huggers have always had reason to rejoice, even if they did not know it. It turns out that vodka – the distilled, starch-based alcohol found in popular mixed drinks from bloody Marys to White Russians – boasts eco-medicinal properties. According to the environmental Web site, The Daily Green, if a hiker comes into contact with poison ivy, immediately pouring vodka over the skin “washes away the itchy culprit, urushiol oil.” (Forest trekkers everywhere now know which spirit to keep in their flasks.)
Finlandia Vodka, a company owned by Brown-Forman Corporation, has upped vodka’s environmental cred even further by partnering with the powerhouse nonprofit organization, Trees for the Future. Through November, customers can redeem specially marked bottles of Finlandia vodka to donate a tree planting in honor of themselves, friends or family – a significantly better exchange rate than the bottles’ 5 to 15 cents redeemable value.
Finlandia’s namesake country is itself largely covered by coniferous trees like spruce, birch and Scots pine, which makes the company’s partnership particularly meaningful. “Finland’s nature and pristine glacial spring water has always been an essential element in making Finlandia Vodka,” said Nick Nelson, who serves as Finlandia’s brand manager. “We do our best to find ways to reduce our environmental footprint and this partnership allows us to give back to nature.”
Like all of the tree plantings initiated by Trees for the Future since the organization was founded in 1988, the Finlandia trees will be sown in developing countries across Africa, Asia and Central America.
According to TFTF’s Web site, founders Dave and Grace Deppner were inspired to start their organization after witnessing “illegal logging and unsustainable land management systems,” while volunteering in the Philippines during the 1970s. The tree loss that they saw -- which clocks in at a staggering 100,000 acres of logged forest every day -- depletes soils, threatens biodiversity, contributes to global climate change and disrupts the communities of people and animals that depend on the land for food, medicine and shelter.
Today, Trees for the Future’s plantings – 65 million trees, and counting – remain a central focus of the organization’s larger efforts to encourage sustainable agro-forestry through seed distribution and trainings for rural communities who want to restore tree cover to their land. As co-founder Dave Deppner likes to say, “It is amazing what a seed can grow.”
In the stores, consumers should look for specially designated bottles of Finlandia’s original, lime, mango, wild berries, grapefruit, and tangerine fused vodkas – which should not be difficult to find, considering it is the fifth largest premium vodka brand in the world. Finlandia’s partnership with Trees for the Future is a unique example of a company finding creative ways to foster environmental stewardship, strengthen local communities, and turn last night’s party into tomorrow’s forest.