Making soda at home – lessening environmental impact

We consume our share of soda in our household. In fact, I cringe each time I walk past our recycling bins that seem to fill up at a frightening rate.

While it’s great to recycle, it’s far from a zero environmental impact activity – it takes energy and resources to turn our cans and bottles back into base materials for the purposes of reuse.

According to the Container Recycling Institute, Americans consumed in excess of 200 billion bottled and canned beverages last year; an increase of 50 billion bottles and cans from ten years prior. That figure isn’t just due to population increase – people are consuming more. Consumption of beverages in aluminum, glass, steel and plastic containers in the USA has skyrocketed from just over 250 units per person annually in 1970 to over 670 today.

While most readers of this site would already recycle their cans and bottles, which is the responsible way to handle this waste – recycling is still energy intensive; albeit far less than digging up, extracting and creating the raw materials needed to produce cans and bottles. Still, it’s an aspect of our consumption that we can “green” a little more. Additionally, all the soda we consume has to be freighted from somewhere; and that in itself has environmental impact in terms of fuel consumption and associated emissions.

I remember ads for home soda makers when I was growing up and I hadn’t really given them much more thought until I was contacted by SodaStream (Soda Club) a couple of weeks back who kindly sent me one of their home soda makers to try out. I was very pleasantly surprised at just how easy it is to use these systems. No electricity needed, no mess and very quick to do. Additionally, it works out to cost only around US 50-60 cents per liter (quart) to make.

To crank out your own soda, it really is just 4 simple steps. It was great to come across something that worked totally as advertised :).

– Fill the bottle to the indicated line with water
– Place the bottle in the machine
– Hit the button a few times to gas the bottle
– Add the syrup; done!

The 4 step SodaStream system

The environmental benefits

Soda isn’t exactly what you’d call a healthy drink I guess; but if we’re going to drink the stuff, making your own is a great way to go:

a) Massive reduction in bottle and can consumption – the bottles you get with the systems are sturdy and reusable
b) One small syrup bottle makes around 12 liters (approx. 3 gallons) of soda
c) The small syrup bottle is recyclable
d) No electricity involved
e) The gassing cylinder is refillable, you simply exchange the empty one for a charged cylinder
f) Save on fuel used to freight commercially bought soda

There’s a wide range of flavors available, including diet and sports drink varieties. If you’re particularly health conscious and concerned about preservatives, colors and flavorings, you can make up your own syrups. You basically have full control over the quality and ingredients of the soda you make – including the water source.

Having never used another brand of soda maker, I can’t definitively say the SodaStream/SodaClub is the best system on the market; but I can certainly state my whole family is greatly enjoying the soda and everyone has been able to use the machine without any problems. I’ve noticed a difference in our recycling bin levels after just a few days; and it’s definitely saving us some cash.

Learn more about SodaStream/SodaClub here. The company has been around for a very long time; their products seem well supported and the systems are now available in stores in 18 countries -or you can purchase online and have one delivered to your door.