For those of you who drink sparkling water, seltzer, or soft drinks, a soda machine is a HUGE thing you can do to become more sustainable. A soda machine is great for entertaining when you need a lot of carbonated beverages or if you are a regular drinker of carbonated items. You can also carbonate juices, make sparkling apple cider or sparkling lemonade. Delicious!
With a soda machine you can make your own carbonated drinks, right in your own kitchen and eliminate all of the packaging waste, including glass bottles for sparkling water or aluminum waste from cans and plastic waste from soda bottles. If you are purchasing seltzer in cans, this really reduces the household waste and the waste of a precious resource that has to be mined at an environmental cost. Also, factor in the transportation costs in shipping and handling for all of those single use products. Anything that you can make at home makes a big impact beyond just the the item. Also consider your own time and transport in acquiring the item from the store, over and over again and every person that had to touch our package the items throughout the supply chain. Making items yourself is the way to move towards a more sustainable footprint. We all enjoy our luxuries, like carbonated drinks. So why not put that little bit of effort in to making a more sustainable choice.
I have a SodaStream brand machine, though I notice that there are a few brands on the market.
How does it work: A small CO2 canister resides in the back of the machine. You fill the bottle with water and flavoring of your choice, insert the bottle into the nozzle area and press it back against the cradle. This shoots a stream of CO2 from the straw into the water. Presto! Instant carbonation.
Cartridges: I know that your next question is about the CO2 cartridges, and I am glad you asked. YES, they are recyclable and even better, reusable. There is an exchange program for these. The best part is that Target stores (and possibly others) are outlets for the exchange. At Target you can bring your empty cartridges to the return desk and exchange for new cartridges at half of retail price (Retail is $30, with exchange $15). There is also an exchange program through the SodaStream website if you have no Target in your area. The cartridges will make 60 liters of carbonated drinks. I think mine last a little less, since I like to make my drinks extra fizzy and use a little extra on each bottle. In any case, we go about 3 months between exchanges.