Do you remember the Three “Green Rs” from 7th grade science? Or maybe Jack Johnson’s song on the subject from the Curious George soundtrack? Perhaps you get your eco-tips from Peppa Pig? Whatever the case, we’re not judging.
If you’re still in the dark, the Green Rs are “reduce, reuse, recycle” and together they offer a succinct roadmap for how to protect our increasingly fragile environment. There’s also a new R, and it’s every green-lover’s favorite buzzword of the 2010s: “repurpose.” The idea being that products can find brand new lives after their first lives are complete (if you want to fight about semantics, “repurposing” could probably fall under “recycling” but don’t you dare cheat ecologists out of that extra R).
Under this heading, we’ve started to see some pretty exciting products pop up as brands unlock how to maximize the lifecycle of resources by making them new again. Take the Bay Area upstart Regrained, for instance. The company has quickly made a name for itself by using the spent grains from beer production and incorporating them into energy bars.
“The lightbulb moment for Regrained came from this hobby for making beer,” says Dan Kurzrock a company co-founder, “I’ve got this by-product that’s delicious and thought ‘we can build a sustainable enterprise.'”
So far, Regrained has two products: Honey Cinnamon IPA bars and Coffee Chocolate Stout. The grains themselves are high in fiber and protein — much of which is retained after the brewing process. The idea is an exciting one, so much so that the Department of Agriculture has jumped on board.
“We’re very interesting in finding value-added uses for food waste products,” says Tara McHugh, a research leader with the USDA. “It’s estimated that there are 1.3 tons of food waste generated annually, and spent grain is one of those materials that really can be used in healthy foods but currently aren’t.”
But the “repurpose” conversation that Regrained is bringing to the masses is a lot bigger than two energy bar flavors. It’s about showing people it can be done, jumpstarting ideas, and bringing this fourth “R” into the mainstream — all in hopes of saving that planet.