Craft breweries, especially in Grand Rapids, are leading a sustainability movement. Each brewery has its own way of tackling that issue. Here are six breweries influencing the way Grand Rapids breweries look at sustainability:

Brewery Vivant focuses on building a sustainable community by investing in local materials. 50 percent of Brewery Vivant's food input and 25 percent of its drink input is grown within 250 miles of its East Hills location.

Brewery Vivant focuses on building a sustainable community for all by investing in local materials.

Photo by Experience Grand Rapids (taken by Bree Girard)

Brewery Vivant & Broad Leaf Brewery & Spirits


Brewery Vivant and Broad Leaf Brewery & Spirits have become shining examples of sustainability among brewers. Co-founders Kris and Jason Spaulding are taking great care to ensure that their operation will drive change in the community for years to come.

Brewery Vivant became the world’s first LEED-certified microbrewery in 2012, just two years after opening its doors. Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design (LEED) is a rating system for the design, construction and operation of green buildings. The brewery was built along those guidelines and incorporates sustainable practices in day-to-day operations – including using solar panels to generate electricity, working towards zero waste to landfill and striving for an annual reduction in carbon footprint.

In 2021, the Spauldings formally committed their operation to a 50% greenhouse gas reduction and 25% energy intensity reduction within 10 years. They also signed on to the Department of Energy’s Better Climate Challenge and Better Plants Challenge.

The Spauldings are committed to sourcing locally and regionally as much as possible. They established goals for the operation of acquiring 50% of their food input and 25% of their beer input from Michigan, and sourcing 75% of all purchases from Michigan. The latter goal was surpassed for the first time in 2021, when 79% of all business purchases were made from Michigan-based companies. Brewery Vivant also surpassed the food input goal in 2021, acquiring 62% of its food input from Michigan.

Extending the local theme, the operation donates 1% of its sales to local charities.

Each year, the operation releases a Beer The Change® report highlighting its sustainability and community service initiatives.

Mitten Brewing Co. Beer with Composting Instructions in Grand Rapids, MI

Founded by two lifelong local residents in 2012, the Mitten Brewing Co. has emphasized sustainability and charitable giving since its inception.

Photo by Experience Grand Rapids (taken by Bree Girard)

Mitten Brewing Co.

Mitten Brewing Co. co-owners, Chris Andrus and Max Trierweiler, in conjunction with their staff, work to support neighborhood schools and amplify the voices of their neighbors all year long.

Mitten Brewing has raised more than $350,000 for area nonprofits and organizations since opening in 2012. In 2017, the brewery launched its own foundation, The Mitten Brewing Foundation. Each month, the brewery partners with a different local nonprofit organization to raise funds and awareness.

In 2021, Mitten staff logged more than 200 volunteer hours and helped raise over $45,000 for the community. These funds were used for such causes as an accessible playground surface at Richmond Park, a teen night at the local boys and girls club, support of children with disabilities, free meals for food-insecure neighbors and – fittingly, for the baseball-themed brewery – the preservation of black baseball in Michigan.

BarFly Ventures' to go box made from renewable resources in Grand Rapids, MI

Fact: All napkins, to-go products, and straws at BarFly Ventures' establishments are made from renewable resources and plants.

Photo by Experience Grand Rapids

Grand Rapids Brewing Co. and HopCat

BarFly Ventures establishments, including Grand Rapids Brewing Co. and HopCat (which has locations in Downtown and Knapps Corner), diverted more than 90 percent of its waste from the landfill to compost and recycling.

In 2017, BarFly Ventures was recognized as the Sustainable Business of the Year by the West Michigan Sustainable Business Forum thanks to its waste elimination efforts and partnerships with sustainability nonprofits across the country. The company also works to create a more sustainable community in which everyone’s needs are met. Its 2018 Sustainability Report (the latest available), recounts that year’s accomplishments – including the donation of more than $85,000 to local nonprofits and charities in the areas of equality, conservation, water safety, housing solutions, health/wellness, animal welfare, community initiatives, food accessibility, kids’ engagement and veterans’ services.

BarFly is a founding member of multiple sustainable-focused organizations, including the U.S. Green Building Council’s Grand Rapids 2030 District and the Great Lakes Business Network.

Beer From Founders' Brewery In Grand Rapids, MI

Founders' goal is for each employee to dedicate one hour of community service each year. In 2017, Founders employees dedicated 450 service hours.

Photo by Experience Grand Rapids

Founders Brewing Co.

By far the largest brewery in Grand Rapids, Founders Brewing Co. is no slouch when it comes to its sustainability and charitable efforts. 

In 2021, Founders composted 48,000 pounds of waste per month and diverted 90% of its waste from landfills. It sent more than 16 million pounds of spent grain from its production processes to local farms for animal feedstock and for use in Beer City Dog Biscuits. It also decreased its electrical and water consumption by 4% per barrel produced.

The brewery is a big reason the city of Grand Rapids constructed a bio-digester at its Water Resource Recovery Facility. The bio-digester converts food waste into energy from nearby Founders, SET Environmental facilities and other sources. 

In 2017, Founders launched its corporate giving platform, The Big Pitcher, designed to give back to local, regional and national causes that the brewery is passionate about, particularly those that emphasize the environment, social equity and arts & culture. The Big Pitcher also encompasses volunteering and employee donation to encourage staff to give back to the community. In 2019, the program contributed $100,000 in donations and that figure increased to $113,000 in 2020. 

Grand Rapids was once referred to as “America’s Greenest City” due to its sustainability efforts – and Grand Rapids breweries are doing their part to keep us moving forward as an environmentally conscious community.

Visit our Beer City, USA page to learn more about the local beer scene, find breweries near you and download the Beer City Brewsader® app – you’ll earn a FREE t-shirt by using the app to check in to eight breweries!