Monday, October 11, 2010

The Soda Maker

We are not big soda drinkers in our family. (Well, Semira would be if we let her!) But we do have an addiction to club soda. And to make matters worse, I like it in the can. The bottles tend to go flat quicker than I can drink them. Over the last few years, we have bought A LOT of club soda. I am guessing on average at least 50 cans a week. We recycle all the cans, which is a pain when you live in a town without curbside recycling pickup. Well, the guilt of the cans finally got to us so a few months ago we bought our very own soda maker. The soda maker came with two bottles and the carbon dioxide cartridges are refilled so you simply return them for a new one.

While we recycle, many Americans do not. Roughly half of all aluminum cans end up in the trash in North America. Meanwhile recycling aluminum uses only 1/20th of the energy of creating new aluminum. Making aluminum is messy business. If you have been reading the news lately, you get the idea of how environmentally damaging aluminum production is. That gross red sludge oozing through Hungry is a toxic byproduct from aluminum manufacturing. Although recycling is good, it's still the last of the three "r's" so perhaps we need to be thinking of using less.

I dislike the plastic bottles that come with the Soda Stream, but overall am happy with other aspects of the product.

  1. It literally takes just a few seconds to make a liter of club soda.
  2. No more trips to the store lugging all the cans of club soda. They are heavy.
  3. Entertainment for the kids... They like making their own soda.
  4. We control what is in their soda. We are using different 100% juice concentrates so they can make their own fruit flavored sodas. In the end, it's regular juice diluted with carbonated water. How bad is that once a month or so?
  5. It is way cheaper than buying soda or even the cheapest club soda at the store.
  6. It is better for the cans to be made or recycled and savings of transport of our soda from wherever it is made to our grocery store. The carbon cylinders are reused.

A few weeks ago I was in Cheyenne for a doctors appointment so I took the opportunity to run some errands. I went to Bath, Bed, and Beyond to exchange the empty carbon cartridge for a new one. The clerk had no idea what to do with my request so she called the manager over. Twenty minutes later I am still standing there while three people figure out what to do. I was told that no one has yet to return the empty cartridge. Long story short, the manager digs through stacks of papers in her office to find the contract with Soda Stream. I then get my $15 credit for the empty cartridge and get a new one. I got the impression returning something to be reused was an alien concept for a store!

It is sad to me that everything in our society is either disposable or a piece of crap that breaks. The amount of waste produced for short term pleasure is just astonishing. The really sad part is that no one seems to care much about it. Sure some people care a little, but not enough to make any drastic changes to the system. What if we drank less soda? What if we all made our own soda? What if we reused glass bottles over and over again? The pictures below are from our trip to Ethiopia two years ago. Soda is served in glass bottles that have worn off labels or no label at all. I can't imagine that this would ever fly in the U.S. There would be a revolt!

Beer, Mirinda (orange soda), and Ambo (club soda) - Ethiopian style

Saved bottles outside the restaurant

In the end, making your own carbonated water in reusable bottles is not going to save the environment. It does, however, give one the opportunity to think about what our kids consume, the cycle of resources, and how "disposable" our culture has become. If we're this footloose with material items, at what point do we start treating people in the same way?


  1. Cool! I love bubbly water. I lived in Uruguay for a year and got addicted to mineral water there.
    ~ Heather

  2. We got our sodastream in Switzerland in 2005, used it there all year, brought it back, and now get our cartridges online direct from sodastream--very convenient! and we figure we are sequestering carbon, too...