In the last few years a reincarnated SodaStream made an appearance on the Irish market. What a blast from the past! Back in the day, mine was one of the families lucky enough to own one of these fancy devices, but thrilling though the process of fizzing the water was, we weren’t mad about the resulting drinks.
At that time, the drinking of fizzy water would have been something of an oddity, so the main aim of owning a SodaStream was to recreate commercial fizzy drinks at home for a fraction of the cost. But the range of real fizzy drinks we were familiar with was somewhat limited: Fanta, Coke and Pepsi, TK Lemonade, Club Orange and 7Up would have been about it. As a result, SodaStream’s offerings tasted funny to our limited childhood palattes and the novelty wore off quickly.
Nowadays, we’re used to a much wider range of weird and wonderful flavours in our fizzy drinks, from the big name producers, to the sometimes weird and wonderful imports in the smaller ethnic shops around town, and homemade fizzy drinks using an ever increasing range of cordials and juices. Fizzy water is a proper drink in its own right too now.
Chez Murphy-Malone, we’ve been largely making our own fizzy drinks at home for the last few years using cordials, juices, and bottled fizzy water bought in bulk from the supermarkets. We’d treat ourselves to pre-prepared fizzy drinks every now and then for a bit of novelty/variety, but mainly stuck to the mix-it-yourself solution. The bottled water, though, took up a sizable amount of valuable space in our kitchen and didn’t hold much aesthetic value.
But what bothered me more than the storage issue was the amount of plastic waste we were generating. It’s become less noticable in the last couple of years now the fortnightly green waste collection includes plastics, but it used to be a bigger deal when we had to transport one or more sacks of empty (and crushed) 2L water bottles to the bring centre every month.
SodaStream comissioned a report on the impact of soft drinks on the enviroment which can be found here. It doesn’t actually go into the details of the impact of producing a SodaStream machine, but provided you’re in it for the long haul, I reckon it must balance out relatively quickly.
Cost-wise, if you’re buying cheap fizzy water and paying ~50c a litre, 180L will cost €90. To buy a SodaStream and refill the cylinder twice at Argos prices is €91. For the extra euro, you’ll save yourself schlepping around and recycling 45 plastic 2L bottles.
Note: At the time of writing, Argos are selling the white SodaStream for 1/3 off at a mere €43.32, if you feel like breaking even a bit quicker.
When SodaStream relaunched here a few years back, the only place I could find them was in the Argos catalog, which sold starter kits, but not refills, so once you’d fizzed your first 60L, you were done. I briefly looked into the logistics of exchanging cylinders by post, and contemplated bringing them back as hold luggage from holiday destinations, but it was all a bit messy and awkward so I just wrote it off as a nice but impractical idea. In the latest Argos catalog, though, they included a listing for refills/canister exchanges, so my interest was revived. On checking the store locator on their website, I discovered that there are actually a few stores in Ireland now stocking SodaStreams and doing canister exchanges, so having paid a visit to a couple to make sure their listings weren’t outdated/fictional, I decided to look into swapping pre-fizzed water for the DIY kind.
I picked up a lead test for our water for a tenner on eBay, just to make sure we weren’t going to poison ourselves. That was negative, so when we finished our last bottle of fizzy water I took the plunge and swapped the large chunk of floorspace we’d been using to store bottles of fizzy water for the small patch of countertop space which now homes our shiny white, fizzy water and fart noise making toy.
In principle, a canister provides 60L of fizzy water (fizzed 1L at a time these days instead of 250ml). I’ve not been monitoring the actual volumes we’re getting, but we’re still going strong on the original canister 6 weeks later and no sign of it giving up. When it does expire, there’ll be considerably less hassle involved in transporting the expired canister and shiny new refill than the number of large bottles of sparkling water it would’ve taken to keep us busy in the meantime!
Of course, the real eco-friendly solution would be to stop drinking fizzy water already, and I’m sure I’ll get there eventually, but for now, I’m enjoying my SodaStream and the reduced environmental impact of my fizzy drinks habit.