Make your own soda
Making your own soda cuts down on wasteful packaging associated with store-bought soft drinks, namely aluminum cans and plastic bottles. Make your own soda to create a singular refreshment that caters to your fizz-loving palate while curbing pollution linked to the transport of your preferred carbonated beverage and saving fossil fuels.
How to make your own soda
- Start simple: Similar to other involved hobbies, home soda making requires an ample amount of practice and patience during the beginning stages, although it's much less complex and quicker (and more kid-friendly) than concocting homemade beer. Do not expect to produce a lemon-lime spritzer of utter perfection on your first attempt. Homemade soda production may also call for sufficient physical space, although some devices (see Find it! Soda-making equipment) are designed for more cozy kitchens where space is at a premium. Useful articles to get you started and inspired include Brew Better Soda at Home at Mother Earth News and BYO's Pop Art - Brewing Excellent Soda. Stephen Cresswell's Homemade Root Beer, Soda & Pop is also an excellent read for all patrons of pop.
- Cola 101: Parents weaning young soda-drinkers-in-training: home soda making is not only a fun family activity, but a built-in lesson in recycling, science, healthy diet choices, and economics. Before embarking on Project Root Beer, explain that soda is a special treat that when made at home can reduce packaging waste and save money. Also point out that when making soda at home you know what's going into each batch and can choose to create it from natural, more healthy ingredients. Even homemade pop calls for sugar or sugar substitutes so remember that liquid candy should be complimented by a more nutritious treat and reinforcement that grape soda is not one of the basic food groups. And for parents interested in making their own adult refreshments, suppliers of soda-making ingredients and paraphernalia (see Find it! Soda-making suppliers) also sell the gear needed for home beer and wine making.
- Don't fret about fermentation. Although homemade soda undergoes the same yeasty process as beer, the fermentation process is not nearly as long and the resulting soda should only be carbonated, not alcoholic.
Find it! Soda-making equipment
For soda drinkers concerned about the eco-impact of their habit, Soda-Club offers a fun, fizzy, and eco-friendly solution. By using this battery- and electricity-free device, a family of four can cut household soft drink-related packaging waste by about 90 percent. And since Soda-Club allows you to make a wide array of sodas and seltzers in your own home, you'll be diminishing the carbon footprint associated with the shipping and transport of packaged pop.
Find it! Soda-making suppliers
Like a painter needs a brush and canvas, a home soda maker needs rubber tubing and champagne yeast. Below is a sampling of the many vendors offering the compulsory paraphernalia required in the art of home soda brewing. Basic starter kits are also available for those not yet ready to enter the more esoteric realm of passion fruit extracts and boiled celery seed.
- Mountain Homebrew & Wine Supply
- Midwest Homebrewing & Winemaking Supplies
- E.C. Kraus
- Homebrewers Outpost
- Prairie Moon
Making your own soda helps you go green because…
- It diminishes your carbon footprint by eliminating the need for highly polluting, fuel-intensive transport of packaged soft drinks.
- It cuts back on the cycle of waste produced when purchasing soda packaged in aluminum cans and plastic bottles.
- It allows you to choose healthy ingredients like real fruit in lieu of artificial flavorings.
Given the worldwide popularity of soda, chief environmental concerns are oil consumption and smog-creating carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxide emitted during the transportation of aluminum cans and plastic bottles in long-haul diesel trucks. Diesel exhaust contains over 450 chemicals, 40 of them believed to be toxic to humans and detrimental to the environment. Carbon monoxide from vehicle emissions accounts for 56 percent of total carbon emissions nationwide and, along with nitrogen oxide, contributes to air pollution. It's estimated that most food products, including soda, travel an average of 1,500 miles before reaching our kitchen tables. Soda made, bottled, and consumed at home does not have to make this journey.
When not served from a fountain, soda is predominately packaged in and consumed from plastic bottles and aluminum cans. Plastic soda bottles (1 billion pounds of PET bottles were recovered in 2004) are not biodegradable. When they end up as trash in landfills, they stay there for up to 700 years before beginning to decompose. Recycling plastic bottles reduces the amount of trash clogging landfills, and limits the environmental exposure to chemical contaminants from products like soap and cleaning products that can seep into the soil and contaminate ecosystems. Recycling plastics also saves energy. One recycled plastic bottle conserves enough energy to power a light bulb for up to three hours.
Aluminum soft drink and beer cans accounted for 1.4 million tons of waste in 2005; 0.7 million tons were recovered for recycling. Although aluminum cans represent only 1.4 percent of the total waste stream by weight, they contribute 14 percent of the emissions embodied in 1 ton of landfill-bound waste. The recycling of a single soda can saves enough energy to run a computer for up to three hours.
Related health issues
Soft drinks have long been linked to various health concerns, most notably obesity. Americans drink more carbonated beverages—an edible with no nutritional value that sells better than any other product at grocery stores, including fruit and veggies—than water on a daily basis. In total, Americans take in 67,840 calories per year from soft drinks. It's estimated that soda represents 10 percent of calories in the American diet, an alarming statistic to those tracking the steady climb of American obesity rates. Groups such as the Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) advocate affixing obesity warnings on pop cans and bottles, similar to the health warnings on a pack of cigarettes.
Aside from obesity, other health issues facing soda sippers include cell damage (caused by the preservative sodium benzoate), osteoporosis (due to mineral-leaching phosphates), gum and tooth disease, and a compromised immune system.
- PET (polyethylene terephthalate): Plastic polymer in the polyester family, mainly derived from petroleum and used by the chemicals industry for bottles, textiles, and industrial moldings. Has a resin code of #1 for plastics recycling. One of the main plastics used by the beverage industry for plastic bottles for retail sale.
- The Soda Pop Blog
- Plenty Magazine - The Cola Wars
- Green living tips - Soda and the environment
- New York Times - Having the Fizz Without the Guilt
- US Environmental Protection Agency - 1999 National Emissions by Source: Nitrogen Oxides
- Clean Air Council - Philadelphia Diesel Difference: Diesel Exhaust Pollution
- Georgia Institute of Technology - Device Burns Fuel with Almost Zero Emissions
- The Sustainable Table - The Issues: Fossil Fuels and Energy Use
- American Beverage Association - Fact Sheet: Recycling Data
- SKS Bottle - Recycle Plastic Containers
- Alive.com - Hair to Dye For
- Recycling-Guide.org - Recycling facts and figures
- US Environmental Protection Agency - 2005 Municipal Solid Waste Report
- Grassroots Recycling Network - Aluminum Can Waste: Bigger Impact Than Plastic Bottle Waste
- Utah State University Recycling Center - Facts and Figures
- Dontdrinksoda.com - The Facts About Soda
- CNN.com - Nutritionists: Soda making Americans drink themselves fat
- FOXNews - Report: Soda May Seriously Harm Your Health
- Water for Life USA - 8 Ways Soda Fizzles Your Health