Where are they now – Alexis Esseltine

By: Gavin Pitchford

We love seeing the growth of our past winners and want to share their sustainability journeys with you! We have been following up with our past winners by asking them a series of questions to see how their careers and organizations have developed over time.

Alexis Esseltine

Alexis Esseltine – Owner, Tin Whistle Brewing Co.

In 2015, Alexis won a Clean50 Emerging Leader award for building Keilhauer’s sustainability program including diverting a plan to divert 10 tons of textile annually, an extensive waste program that reduced waste by 27% in two years, led the company to achieve 0 waste to landfill through a waste-to-energy partnership, She increased renewable electricity use to 100%, and identified over 500,000 kW/h in annual energy savings.

Q: Can you describe your current position and company?

A: On October 30, 2020 My husband and I became the owners of Tin Whistle Brewing Co. Founded in 1995, Tin Whistle Brewing is the original craft brewery of the South Okanagan.

Q. How are you contributing to reaching Canada’s climate change and emission goals?

A: Our vision for the business has always been “incredible beer, less impact”. We wanted to bring values to the tables in the beer industry. Upon taking over the business I undertook a sustainability assessment to understand the operation’s key environmental impacts, performance against these impacts, and identified opportunities to draw down the impact. Six months after acquiring the business, and on Earth Day 2021, we announced that Tin Whistle Brewing was the first carbon-neutral brewery in B.C.

Q. How has being recognized early on in your journey as a Clean50 emerging leader affected your journey?

A: Professionally, the accolade built my credibility, and allowed me to go forward and achieve more. Personally, the award was validation that I was on the right path and doing important work. As sustainability professionals, we go to work everyday and try to make the world a better place for future generations. That’s a lofty exercise and awards like this fuel the journey.

Q: Any upcoming exciting news that you would like to feature? What’s next?

A: Tin Whistle’s mission is incredible beer, less impact. Operationally, we continue to drive reductions to our carbon footprint. We are accelerating on the path to achieve 0 waste, which supports our footprint reduction. We are also starting to look at how we might use algae to convert the CO2 released during beer fermentation to oxygen. On the product side, we have organic certification in our sights. This move supports biodiversity and pollinators who are key to maintaining healthy ecosystems and food systems.

Q. Do you have any advice for young adults starting their sustainability careers?

A: First, when looking for solutions to environmental challenges, know you rarely have to reinvent the wheel. I’ve made big environmental gains by learning from others whether it be competitors (I worked for leaders who believed, rightfully, that sustainability wasn’t a competitive advantage but rather the right thing to do), municipalities, non-profits, or post-secondary students and professors. Ask questions, and listen intently. Our challenges are often not unique, and by learning and working with others we can do great things. Second, be persistent. Solutions to some of the world’s most pressing issues aren’t always going to come quickly. Stick with it. Be hopeful and optimistic, because what’s the alternative?