Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Laying off the Bubbly (Water)

I am a big water guzzler. Seriously, I make a mean glass of ice water. Shhhh! I know that room temperature water might be healthier and is totally more eco-friendly, but you have to give me credit for coming a long way. I used to be a seltzer guzzler. Imagine the overflowing recycling bin from all the giant 2-liter plastic bottles I sucked down on a daily basis. On top of the ridiculous pile of bottles (plastic, then glass), I started wondering what kind of water was in my seltzer. I mean, NRDC all but tarred and feathered the lack of regulation in the bottled water industry years ago, so buying seltzer while I was fretting about my tap water seemed silly. But like I said, I am a water guzzling fool. And I looooove seltzer. So I went down many roads in search of a greener seltzer.

First stop was a handheld seltzer maker I got at Sur La Table. This was irrationally appealing because the brand name iSi nearly approximated the name my daughter had for nursing (isiii!). It only cost $50 (aside from the CO2 chargers - looks like it's $70 now, I guess it's been awhile). I still have this but stopped using it pretty quickly because a)I couldn't figure out how to recycle the chargers (which only made something like 20 oz of water each), b)the amount of energy used to make the chargers in the first place must have been obscene, and c)the seltzer itself really wasn't bubbly enough for my particular thirsty palate. So I have that in my closet. It's got freecycle written all over it.

Second stop was a trip down highbrow mineral water road.
Which was kind of annoying because I am really at heart a Vintage-seltzer-on-sale-in-the-chips-aisle kind of girl. You know, the Ty Nant, Calistoga-kind of road? At least they were glass bottles. Heavy glass bottles shipped across one or two continents. Sigh. This is what I now allow myself to get on my birthday.

Third stop? Too expensive but promising. A friend of mine has a SodaClub dispenser which she says is easy to use (and the chargers, which are recycled by the company, last for a few months). She uses it just for seltzer, not for soda (and they'll send you lots of HFCS syrup with it to get you started, bleccch). My problem is, if I want to buy something new (which I really don't, right?) I want to get reusable glass bottles instead of plastic (Fake Plastic Fiissssh!). And that system costs about $230 (with s/h). All for BUBBLES in my water (and see here for a negative review of the Penguin's temperamental nature to boot).

Now? I've weaned myself off seltzer, despite its purported benefits. As a friend said (a dear seltzer-lovin' friend who just made the mistake of asking me my enviro take on bubbly water and thus has already heard this entire meandering diatribe), "Hey, if I could stop drinking Diet Coke, I can stop drinking bubbly water." Bottom line: if you buy seltzer you can't guarantee any kind of water quality plus you incur a huge environmental cost for the bottling and shipping. If you make your own you're out big bucks for the system plus you're still incurring energy costs to create the chargers.

Me? I'm off to drink some filtered ice water! Ack, should I disengage my ice maker so I can control the water in my 'cubes? Or just go swimming? Maybe both.

Photo courtesy of Nazreth at sxc.


Mrs. G. said...

This is where I come over and tell you that I am a bubbly water addict-it's how I gave up soda. I need you to find a better solution than to give it up; I won't do it. Mr. G. is addicted too. It's all we drink. But, at least, Talking Rain is a local empire-I think it still is-I'll have to look into that. Or not.

MamaBird said...

Mrs. G - it was a long road. And *local* bubbly? I think that's exempt. (My name is MamaBird and I am a bubbly water addict, it's been two weeks since my last transgression...)

Anonymous said...

dude -- if you figure it out from a local angle, let me know. i, too, enjoy the fizz.

Laura/CenterDownHome said...

Mamabird -- Do you have a post on water filters? We're looking. We have well water and an in-house calcium filter where it comes into the house. The calcium builds up on surfaces, and I'm not real keen on the idea that it might be building up inside of us. Those faucet filters -- are they any good? Have you seen this kind of thing?

Riana Lagarde said...

I was a complete fizzy water addict! You know what I do? I make kombucha and kefir d'aqua and its naturally carbonated. Sometimes too much and I get it all over the ceiling. Its so good and full of good for you probiotics. When i started drinking kombucha, i lost the last 3 kilos of baby weight instantly. And it gives you kind of a euphoric buzz. I make it in a big caroby and then pour into my old glass bottles to store for a month or two.

Anonymous said...

Shh... don't tell, but Soda Club just sent me a Penguin. It arrived today and I'll be trying it out and writing about it. I think the cartridges are actually refilled rather than recycled, which is better.

I haven't opened it yet, so I can't yet report on the packaging inside the box.

Why did they send me a Penguin? Um... cuz I'm nice? And they like what I'm doing on Fake Plastic Fish. They contacted me after reading my blog post and asked if they could send me one. Maybe I shouldn't announce it too loudly or they'll send me a bill.


MamaBird said...

Riana, you're a genius, I will try to make kombucha (my cousin does, I will ask her how).

And Beth? I would be jealous but it really couldn't land in a more deserving home. Let me know if you like it (and maybe talk them into doing a giveaway on your blog!).

Nicholas said...

I built my own carbonating system after I found some instructions online! It cost about 200$ to buy the tank/parts/fill the tank...but it now costs me .02 cents a liter and a full tank makes 1200 liters of carbonated water....... (or carbonated whatever.....)

It was beyond easy to build. It is basically just a 20lb co2 tank, some hose, and a tire hose valve. I fill a 2 liter bottle with filtered water and pressurize it...then shake the bottle...and now I have carbonated water that is environmentally friendly (no chargers, 1000s of reuses on the 2 liter bottles), insanely cheap, and a great trick at parties.

All of the parts are available online or at home depot.


Anonymous said...

I love my Soda Club bubbly water maker and it was only $99, plus the refill-carbonators but they're not that expensive. The plastic bottles have lasted over 2 years by now and they are still good. Just gave up Diet Coke (that we used to buy in cans) and converted my husband to do the same.

Anonymous said...

I am seriously considering building that. Where would you get the tank refilled though??