Monday, March 8, 2010

The Story of the Seltzer Maker

One afternoon my boyfriend called me up at work and excitedly told me he wanted to buy a seltzer maker. I'd read about the environmental benefits of such machines before so I wasn't totally opposed to the idea. But sometimes he gets carried away and splurges on expensive toys that he doesn't end up using. So I said, okay, let's not get it right now, but we can talk about it, and think about whether it would be a good decision to buy one.

However, a few days later I came home to several cases of bottled seltzer and water. What was plastic bottled water doing in my "green" home?? Turns out when I denied him on the soda maker, he went ahead and signed up for a delivery of seltzer bottles, which came with a complimentary delivery of regular water bottles as well. Apparently his interest in seltzer is not a passing fad but an obsession. He had been spending $$ daily on sparkling water from delis near his office and was looking for a way to cut this cost. It would have helped if he had told me this!

Then he read the receipt and realized he had inadvertently signed a yearlong contract for a monthly delivery of seltzer. The thought of hundreds of plastic bottles moving through our apartment unnecessarily every month was even more horrifying to me than the sight of the dozens of bottles currently housed in our apartment.

He yelled at me for blocking the seltzer appliance purchase in the first place. I yelled at him for making a decision without us having the opportunity to properly discuss the situation. (Oh domestic "bliss") In the end, he decided it would still be cheaper to pay the contract cancellation fee and buy the soda maker than it would be to continue with the delivery service. Score one more: by a stroke of luck, Poland Springs let him out of the contract without a fee because they had messed up the order slightly.

So now he has the Soda Stream Soda Maker. Not the $200 Penguin model with glass bottles, but the $80 Jet model with BPA-free plastic bottles because it was cheaper, plastic is lighter and easier to carry around, and the plastic bottles are larger and thus hold more water than the the glass carafes.

Homemade soda makers have several environmental advantages over store-bought seltzer. The machine comes with two reusable bottles and utlizes our own tap water. By not supporting bottled water companies, we are preventing tons of plastic from being manufactured and moving through the waste stream. Fewer fossil fuels are being used for the creation, transport, and recycling of bottles. Furthermore, tap water is actually more strictly regulated and safer than bottled water.

So far it's a hit. He makes seltzer daily, brings it to work, and it stays carbonated throughout the day. I'm not a big on seltzer personally (to me, the most environmentally friendly beverage of all is plain water, which I drink in abundance), but I do see the benefits. When I was sick a couple weekends ago, I was happy to be able to drink sparkling water with lemon slices as an alternative to sugary processed ginger ale. I pretty much cut out mixed drinks when I gave up conventional soda, among other processed foods, a few years ago, so I'm looking forward to experimenting with simple syrups and flavorings to be able to create homemade sodas and cocktails.

Have you thought about getting a soda maker? Do you have any other tips for cutting down consumption of bottled beverages?

21 comments:

  1. Thanks for posting about this. We're considering getting a soda service here (like the milkman) but it's kind of gone out of fashion lately, as the quality and taste of the soda has gone down. But it's definitely something we're gonna look into.

    So cool that you can add syrups as part of the process - i usually just add syrup to sparking water to make an italian soda. When i worked behind the bar, my favorite drink was cranberry juice with soda...mmm!

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  2. i'm so glad it's working out! I'm trying to find a fix that replaces bottles of soda. It's bad for the environment AND me. I'm trying crystal light...

    ps. remember when I said my friend's brother is in Next to Normal? This is him: http://www.broadway.com/shows/next-to-normal/photos/next-normal-show-photos/next-normal-adam-chanler-berat-jennifer-damiano/

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  3. ohmygod, we want one of these so bad! the amount of money we spend on pellegrino in a month makes me sick.

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  4. Oh, I've been wanting one of those so badly! Maybe when the spending hiatus is over. I drink an obscene amount of regular filtered tap water, but I can't resist purchases of sparkling water and the plastic bottle kill me.
    Make sure to keep us updated! I'm curious to see how it holds up.

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  5. oh, yeah! our Penguin is one of my favorite and most used wedding gifts! there's nothing more refreshing than homemade seltzer with a slice of lemon, fresh from the tree. such a great way to reduce waste AND drink more water. glad you guys were able to cancel the delivery service for free.

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  6. I am waiting to put one of these on the registry because I am obsessed with sparkling water too. It's my go-to "special" drink when I'm done with tap water and don't want caffiene or soda in a mixed drink. However, it's definitely a treat for me right now (cost, plastic bottles, etc.) so I want this gadget. Badly. Please let us know how the $80 version works out.

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  7. we have this one at home too! the same sodastream model. it works pretty well, but it takes a while to figure out how to vary the amount of fizziness. my mom is french and prefers the 'smallers bubbles' of french or italian sparkling water. the bubbles in american seltzer are 'too big' for her. (how someone can manage to be snobby about even sparkling water is beyond me, but my mother manages just fine at it!)
    apparently it's all in how long you make the "buzzes." good buy though! enjoy it! (although i dont recommend the flavor packets - they taste like diet discount drug store brand soda. ew.

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  8. ouuu- VERY cool! Andrew would LOVE something gadget-y like that... except he doesn't drink seltzer lol.

    I'm very happy that you both have found a compromise! :)

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  9. Oh, thank you thank you! I was contemplating getting this for my father, who only drinks seltzer water. Luckily, he and my mother just went to Italy, and one of his cousins has a faucet that not only filters water, but at the press of a button spurts out seltzer water. My father - the most un-environmental man on earth - was totally smitten and is installing one this month. I'm doing a green week on my blog this week (you know this because you already commented!), would you mind if I linked this post when I talk about this sort of thing?

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  10. Hi Julia - Your post came through my Google alert...I am so pleased to hear that SodaStream could play a part in your happy couple-hood! It reminded me of an article a couple of months ago in the NYTimes re. an increase in couples fighting over green choices in their households http://www.nytimes.com/2010/01/18/science/earth/18family.html

    So maybe this is a great new PR angle for us - positioning SodaStream as a marriage-saving device??

    Anyway, happy fizzing!!
    Kristin Harp (Marketing Manager, SodaStream USA)

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  11. this sounds awesome, julia. i can't wait to hear how it works out! for the last few years, i've tried to be really good about not wasting - i don't use plastic or paper bags unless desperate, i hardly ever drink out of plastic bottles and i try to eat locally and in season. it doesn't always work out, but your blog definitely inspires me to keep with it. my boyfriend loves carbonated beverages - i'm a water girl - but has really cut back since we started dating. if i show him this, we might have to buy it too.

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  12. Haha, well, you know that I'm desperately lusting over that $200 Penguin model. I'm such a sucker for design! But I'm glad to hear that it's so far, so good for you guys. And maybe we'll have some fizzy drinks for brunch this weekend? ;D

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  13. Ok, wow. I didn't even know you could make seltzer at home! That is so cool. I mean, you know, if you like seltzer. You have to tell us what awesome creations you come up with.

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  14. oh also, i like to make a drink of 1/2 orange juice, 1/2 soda. can you carbonate anything? like apple juice?? or vodka? try it and let me know ;)

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  15. Is seltzer what Americans call fizzy water?

    I don't like that stuff one little bit so no, we haven't thought of getting one.

    We did drink bottled water but we installed a fancy water filter to our taps (not a reverse osmosis one as they're horrifically environmentally unfriendly) and now we just drink from that. It's cool.

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  16. Peonies, how could you not like BUBBLY WATER??

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  17. I had NO idea sparkling water was so popular - it was something I never gave any thought to, until a month ago when this story began. Because I've never really liked it - it tastes weird to me to have bubbles without some kind of flavor accompanying it.

    Julia - I didn't know you could control bubble size, nor that different countries are loyal to different sizes of bubbles! I'll have to tell Jesse to start practicing small French fizzes ;-) I'm planning to try making my own flavors, especially since as you say their flavor packets are pretty lackluster.

    Melina - whoa a special faucet that does the fizzing? never heard of that, crazy but cool.

    Meag - i've heard about a soda service here in brooklyn too, but i think this is option is much cheaper. the instructions say to carbonate water only in the bottle that it comes with - then you can pour the fizzy water out of the bottle to mix with juice or alcohol etc. once jesse tried to carbonate juice in the water bottle and it sprayed everywhere. not exactly sure the science behind it, but i guess that's why you're only supposed to carbonate water.

    Peonies - yes fizzy water, bubbly water, sparkling water, seltzer, soda, whatever ya wanna call it, it's all the same. Glad I'm not the only weird who doesn't like it much. So there ESB.

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  18. I love it... reminds me of Europe.. but it hurts my tum tum and makes my digestion all screwy. so I stay away :(

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  19. this is such a nice and useful information for us...i appreciate urs word........soda machine dealer

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