The title might be an exaggeration, but using a SodaStream to make “fizzy” water, sparkling tea, and cola has reduced the plastic bottles and metal cans I use and recycle. It’s also kept money from leaving my purse.
Because I grew up on water from an artesian well, “city” water tastes too chemical-laden. Even filtering tap water doesn’t quite do it; my water has to have some “interest.” Pre-SodaStream, to get the daily recommended amount of fluids, I drank mineral or other, bottled water or bottled green tea. Add one to two Diet Cokes, and that amounted to five or six aluminum cans and plastic bottles daily. Of course, they went in the recycle bin, but leaving my house doesn’t end their environmental impact.
Less is more
Then, a friend introduced me to SodaStream, an “Earth Friendly” company (meaning few or no empties to recycle or throw away and no batteries or electricity used). SodaStream is a durable, plastic “machine” which uses a small cylinder of CO2 to make soda water or cola. When you run out of CO2, you swap that cylinder for a new one (for a fee, of course), much like the propane tank for a gas grill. The returned cylinders are refilled and resold. Swapping means a cylinder costs about $10, compared to $25 for a cylinder without a swap. The SodaStream operates solely from the pressurized cylinder—no electricity required—and the dispenser has few moving parts and is basically indestructible. Even if you were to break it, SodaStream will take it back and recycle it.
The SodaStream came with two BPA free, reusable bottles designed to keep the fizz from “de-fizzing” for an initial investment of around $100, but I’ve more than made that back by not buying Diet Cokes and bottled water and tea. When the bottle caps “expire”—meaning they no longer seal tightly enough to keep the fizz fizzy—you can replace the caps and continue to re-use the bottles. The viable period for the bottle caps is around three years. The bottles are not dishwasher safe and cannot be washed in hot water, just rinsed in cold water, so that also reduces your draw on the power grid.
SodaStream offers concentrated syrups (sugar and sodium free) for a variety of colas and soda water flavors. Those do come in plastic bottles, but one 750 ml. bottle of flavored syrup makes the equivalent of 30 to 50 cans of your favorite soda. That’s one plastic bottle every four to six weeks in the recycle bin versus 30 to 50 aluminum cans. In the six months I’ve used my SodaStream, I’m only on my third bottle of caffeine-free diet cola syrup. That’s math I can live with. Also, that bottle of syrup costs about $5.00, compared to $15-$20 for 50 cans of cola. There’s nothing like a real Coca-Cola, but the “homemade” version tastes pretty good.
Although SodaStream also offers syrups for flavored water, I’ve been experimenting with lemon or cucumber slices or fruits and berries to flavor my fizzy water rather than using the syrups. I make my own green tea concentrate and combine it with soda water for sparkling tea—way cheaper and more environmentally friendly than buying a case of bottled sparkling green tea at Costco. I also do a 50/50 mix of soda water and cranberry juice—very refreshing—which makes the cran juice “last longer” so I don’t have to replace it as frequently as before.
As with anything about conservation, this is a personal choice. For me it works. I have profoundly reduced the number of cans and bottles in my recycle bins. I don’t have to put them out weekly anymore. I’ve easily gone three weeks before having bins full enough to put at the curb. Before SodaStream, my bin for plastics would be overflowing weekly.
On the SodaStream web site, you can see the count of plastic bottles SodaStream users have not introduced into the environment. The count (as of this writing) was 1.298 billion plus. Wow!
Maybe coke and other commercial companies will consider selling their syrup to consumers, too. Or, we can start putting the SodaStream sodas in glass. Now that would be great!
In the meantime, my SodaStream may not save the entire planet, but my carbon footprint is a few shoe sizes smaller.
–Phyllis “Maggie” Duncan for Lindsay’s List