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Make Sparkling Water at Home to Reduce Plastic Waste

Posted by on May 2, 2018 in Food & Recipes, For Your Home | 0 comments

Make Sparkling Water at Home to Reduce Plastic Waste

Well before Unicorn Kisses and Mermaid Songs, my husband started drinking Polar seltzer religiously. It’s a flavorful but environmentally unsustainable habit. We tossed several liter-sized plastic bottles in the recycling bin every week. Not to mention the fact that we had to lug all that sparkling water home from the grocery store. 

A few years ago, I asked him about buying a carbonation system for the house. The idea fizzled out because he didn’t think the taste would measure up to the commercial stuff. Last month, the idea bubbled up again when we saw a SodaStream commercial. This time, there was less skepticism and more interest in mixing flavors at home. I capitalized on the opportunity, popped open the research I had started a few years ago, and picked up where I left off. 

Buy or DIY?

The first decision was whether to buy a carbonation system or make one. After a lot of web surfing, here are the pros and cons I found for each.

 ProsCons
Buy⦁ Quick and easy to get started
⦁ Less risk of malfunctions or exploding bottles
⦁ Some use glass bottles
⦁ Reuse plastic bottles for up to 3 years
⦁ Higher cost of replacement CO2, extra bottles, etc.
⦁ Locked into a specific brand for parts
DIY⦁ Total customization from tank size to installation
⦁ Save money on CO2
⦁ Fun and satisfaction of making your own
⦁ Parts can cost as much as a buying a machine
⦁ Higher risk of malfunction or exploding bottles
⦁ Must use plastic bottles
⦁ Crushing bottles to remove air likely shortens their lifespan

 

Ultimately, I decided to buy. Here’s why:

  • Effort: Assembling a carbonation system would require a lot more research and careful buying to ensure all materials were food grade.
  • Environmental Sustainability: It looks like bottles for DIY systems would lose their integrity fast so I questioned how many plastic bottles I’d really save. Plus, where would the ones I needed come from? I’d still have to buy drinks in plastic bottles so I had some to reuse for the rig. On the other hand, one plastic SodaStream bottle is supposed to last 3 years. While I was interested in the models with glass bottles, I couldn’t justify the much higher cost.
  • Start Up Cost: It’d cost more to DIY than to buy my top choice machine. I lucked out too – the one I wanted was on sale plus I had a coupon.
  • Long-term Cost: I found a stainless steel CO2 adapter and food grade CO2 container that would modify the machine for about $50. If I buy those, I’ll save money on CO2 in the longer term. If you go this route, make sure that everything is food grade and that the CO2 container will fit your machine. For mine, it’s a 12 oz container while most come in the 20 oz size. 

I placed my bet on …

SodaStream’s Source. A thorough review helped convince me it would produce a good quality sparkling water. I also liked that you could decide how much fizz you want in your drink. It took a few tries to find the right level of carbonation but we appreciate that level of customization. Being able to exchange the CO2 containers at Bed Bath and Beyond and Target is convenient too.

What about the taste?

We’re three weeks into using our sparkling water maker and have tried the raspberry, lime and orange flavors so far. The resident Polar fanboy is satisfied with the quality and taste. He still plans to pick up a few fancy, seasonal flavors from the store on occasion, but we have the basics covered at home.

There was one surprise.

One big question I had was: would a SodaStream pay for itself?

After carefully calculating the cost of buying the brand name CO2 and flavors at their regular price (no coupons), I planned to save at least $0.50 per liter by making sparkling water at home. For us, that meant the machine would pay for itself in a year. 

Unfortunately, the recommended half teaspoon of flavor falls flat. For more than a hint of flavor, you need a double shot, which means we’re only saving $0.30 per liter. At that rate, it’ll take longer to get our money back. Still, it will pay for itself and the environmental impact is significant … we’ll save a few hundred plastic bottles every year.

Polar, if you’re our there …

Please bottle your flavors so we can buy them. Thanks!

Kim is an eco enthusiast who tries to make small changes that will add up and make a difference.

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