Recycling plastic is a great habit but it’s always best to avoid waste in the first place when possible. In the US, producing plastic bottles requires more than 17 million barrels of oil. Many municipalities are also not fully equipped to handle recycling properly, so sorted plastic often ends up in landfills despite the best efforts of consumers. Can’t kick your soda or sparkling water habit? You can still reduce your environmental impact by making those drinks at home with a soda maker.
SodaStream, the leader in the soda maker market, offers reusable plastic bottles that last for up to three years. Want to avoid plastic bottles all together? Pick a model that offers a glass carafe. Making soda at home has caught on in environmentally conscious countries like Sweden where at least 20 percent of homes have a soda making device in their kitchen. For example, 16.5 percent of Germans households are also thinking outside the box and making soda at home. Soda making at home is not a perfect solution to environmental issues, of course, but there are some serious benefits that make it a better choice than buying bottled water or soda.
As previously mentioned, soda making at home helps reduce the use of single use plastic. Bottled water is an amazingly helpful tool for emergency kits and humanitarian efforts but it’s become a daily habit for the majority of it’s consumers everywhere. Worldwide, billions of liters of water are bottled and thrown away annually. Reusable bottles for soda makers help reduce that number and have a 50 to 60 percent lower impact on global warming than single use bottles. Having sparkling water readily available also encourages people to stay more hydrated.
In an effort to make a sustainable product, machine parts for soda makers are often recyclable. For example, many of SodaStream’s packages are totally recyclable and BPA free. The company also does not use materials that can produce phthalates, PCBs, or polycarbonate materials. SodaStream’s CEO, Daniel Birnbaum says the company hopes to promote, "environment, sustainability, health and wellness, and convenience.”
Transportation and emissions are also reduced when you make soda at home. How? Simple: Less trips to the store means less pollution. But wait, don’t fizzy drinks produce carbon emissions? Technically, that’s true, but relatively speaking the carbon footprint of one soda is about 0.4 pounds of CO2 while a car can emit 18 pounds of CO2 after 20 miles. Either way, who wants to spend time driving to the store? If you generally walk or bike to the store, keep in mind that the bottled water or soda on your list most likely had to be shipped across hundreds of miles to get to you. A better alternative is to use local water from your tap.
Transporting CO2 cartridges to retailers is not ideal but is still relatively less impactful than shipping heavy liquids around the world. To make soda makers more environmentally friendly, some users alternatively use paintball CO2 tanks which can be refilled locally. Check with your machine's brand first before tweaking your model.
Although soda maker companies may have a secondary interest in their environmental messages, the fact remains that using less bottles does help reduce plastic bottle waste. SodaStream has found that their customers save an average of 550 plastic bottles a year. Imagine how much plastic waste would be avoided if everyone used a soda maker at home, work or school instead of buying bottles and cans. Even if it’s not a perfect solution for the environment, it’s a step in the right direction.