At its 2023 Annual Meeting in June, Rural Action recognized one local business’s longtime commitment to sustainability. It awarded Jackie O’s Pub & Brewery, based in Athens with an additional location in Columbus, with its 2023 Sustainable Business Award.

“Jackie O’s Brewery has been a Zero Waste Pledge partner since 2015 and it is going through the process of renewing,” said Zero Waste program Co-Director Maria Bonner. “Every decision Jackie O’s makes, it tries to make in an environmentally-friendly way.”

Jackie O’s President Art Oestrike said it was an honor to receive the recognition.

“It’s awesome,” Oestrike said. “We’ve got a lot of like-minded people in southeast Ohio, so it feels incredible to receive that award when there’s so many people doing similar things.”

Oestrike explained that there are many facets to sustainability — from paying decent wages, to product production, to having solid human resources.

Going into 18 years of business this December, Oestrike said that sustainability is fundamental to himself and Jackie O’s as a business. While it may have expanded over the years, the business’s commitment to sustainability has not changed.

“In the early years, we were a small bar, a brew pub, in Uptown Athens,” he explained. “We’ve never really put beer into plastic, unless it was a reusable plastic.” From 2005 to 2013, the only places Jackie O’s beer was available were Casa Nueva and Jackie O’s, both in Uptown Athens.

Oestrike also expressed that the business seeks to source and operate locally as much as possible — that includes sales.

“We really focused on keeping our products within Ohio and still to this day, more than 80% of our products are sold within the state of Ohio,” Oestrike said. “The rest of them go far and wide. They go all over the place. But keeping that carbon footprint down has always been a piece of who we are.”

From the types of labeling Jackie O’s uses on its cans, buying compostable six-pack toppers, installing water friendly equipment to lessen water use, to fruit waste, Jackie O’s has sustainability on its mind.

“Trying to make decisions that way is a core piece of what we do,” Oestrike said.

Its brewery location in Athens is home to 298 solar panels — around 40% of the building — and the new Columbus location just added 32 solar panels of its own, Oestrike added. Additionally, Jackie O’s practices the collection and reuse of the carbon dioxide created during the fermentation process.

The business tries to operate cognizant of the waste and environmental impacts its actions have.

“I feel that they are a leader in our community on how to be an environmentally friendly business while still being a very successful and expanding business!” Bonner said.

For over a decade, Rural Action has honored the people, businesses, and organizations that teach us how to live and work in greater harmony with Earth and with each other. During our annual meeting each year, we recognize those who create new models for living with respect to the earth and its systems that others can follow; have a generous spirit and willingly share knowledge, experiences, and personal resources with others; and leave the world a better place because of their personal and professional behavior. Find more 2023 winners and winners from previous years here.