Recently, my mom-in-law and her friend visited us. As I prepared for them to arrive, I realized that I had no idea what to offer them to drink because we quit soda in May 2012. Our typical drinks at home are water (tap or bubbly), hot tea, coffee, and various adult beverages. The temperatures have been warm, to say the least, so hot beverages were out and neither drink adult beverages. Water, in one form or another, was the option.
Thankfully, both were okay with drinking water. We even got to introduce mom to the wonders of the SodaStream. But, as usual, I’m getting ahead of myself…
why did we quit soda?
Soda and I have a pretty long history. When I was a kid, my mom would “pay” me in six-packs of Coke for doing my chores or watching my younger brothers. It was a special treat because the only other sugary beverages in the house were yucky diet or, even worse, disgusting Kool-Aid. I couldn’t stomach the taste of either and preferred to drink iced tea, water, milk (the dairy allergy came later), or Coke. I know that it sounds silly, but I liked knowing that I was the only one who got to drink the “real” stuff at home. I’ve always been a bit of a natural saver so a six-pack of Coke could last me weeks.
Fast forward a few years, and you can see why coke holds a special place in my heart. But things started to change. I’m not going to blame grad school, but it was definitely a contributing factor to the weight that I started gaining. (Not to mention the untreated thyroid disease.) I’ve always been a pretty slender person, so any fluctuation in my weight is readily noticed. The stress of grad school and the desire to fit as much as possible into every day lead me to abuse caffeine — A LOT. During that first year, it was common for me to have a cup of coffee in the morning, two sodas, several glasses of iced tea, and another cup of coffee in the evening. I rarely drank just water and started to feel rather yucky. Noticing these feelings and changes in my health, I cut back to one cup of coffee a day and stopped drinking soda cold turkey. It wasn’t easy.
Now if I feel I need a “pick-me-up,” sometimes I’ll go for a walk to clear my head or make a cup of hot tea. I also keep my water bottle filled and near me at all times. It turns out if I make a habit as easy as possible, I’m more likely to stick with it.
Justin’s path away from soda (and other carbonated beverages like beer) was a little different from mine. While he drank soda for the caffeine and also noticed the toll it took on his body, he also enjoyed the crisp bubbliness of soda. Enter bubbly water…
The switch to bubbly water was a one-two punch for Justin. He decided to quit soda and most alcohol at the same time. In place of the two, he started to drink, like any good millennial, LaCroix. (We weren’t the only ones. LaCroix went from nowhere to everywhere overnight.) So, why should you join us in our love of bubbly water?
three reasons you should drink bubbly water
- It’s better for you than soda or other sugar-sweetened (artificially or otherwise) beverages.
- It’s more economical than soda.
- It can help you reduce your footprint and contribute to your zero- or less-waste goals.
Soda is terrible for you at both the individual- and community-levels.
Soda consumption is associated with a whole lot of bad stuff, including kidney disease, obesity (here and here), and other problems. Furthermore, people living in poverty are more likely to consume soda or other sugar-sweetened beverages. Rehm et al. found that in New York City found that soda consumption is more prevalent among U.S.-born blacks, those with less education, those who watch more television, and those who exercise less when compared with white, affluent New Yorkers. While this research notes that the disparities in soda consumption are linked to socially disadvantaged populations, the authors are careful to state that their research cannot explain why these correlations exist.
That being said, there has been at least one qualitative study that has asked why people drink soda. Block and his colleagues conducted focus groups at six colleges with 90 students. They found that the two most important factors in soda consumption are taste price. I do wish that they had discussed the issue of taste a bit further because what they do talk about has more to do with brand loyalty and, perhaps, personal history or background. In addition, these were college students — not exactly the prime soda drinking population.
Putting these issues aside, I think their findings about how to reduce soda consumption were interesting. Few of the respondents were concerned with the health issues caused by soda. Although, when brought up, it was in the context of concern about diabetes by black participants. By and large, the respondents found messaging and advertisements showing them the actual amount of sugar in a can of soda to be the most effective at urging them to quit. In other words, arming people with knowledge could help here!
One way that some cities have attempted to reduce soda consumption is by enacting soda taxes. However, some research has shown that these taxes disproportionately affect the poor because those with resources are more able to go elsewhere for their groceries and avoid the the tax altogether. While the intended impact of reducing soda consumption has been achieved in some places, would it not be better for the population to be able to make informed choices about consumption as it relates to health instead of through economic inducement?
Bubbly water is better for your pocketbook. (Especially if you use a SodaStream.)
Almost a year after our transition to canned bubbly water, I decided that something had to give in terms of the economics of it all. From what I could tell, soda and canned bubbly water cost about the same amount on a dollars per ounce basis. It seemed silly to me for us to lug canned water up to our apartment and then need to deal with the empty cans and boxes.
|Unit Price||$4.79 per case||$4.32 per case||$14.99 per cartridge|
|Oz per unit||144 oz||144 oz||1,521 oz|
A few things to note about the table: The unit prices for Coke and LaCroix come from Amazon. The unit price for the CO2 cartridge is what we typically pay when we exchange our cartridges at Target. The ounces per unit figure for the SodaStream represents 45 liters of bubbly water per cartridge. Justin likes his water with maximum bubbles so we don’t get 60 liters like it says on the canister.
I did my research and an at-home carbonation system seemed like the way to go. Now, there are lots of tutorials about how to hack a SodaStream (with the most notable and useful one being by the Frugalwoods) so I decided to go with that for our initial set-up even though we live in an apartment at the moment (i.e., no hacking for us until we move to the new house). I bought the machine, two CO2 canisters, and three carbonation bottles for around $150. Assuming ten cases of LaCroix and two CO2 canister refills, the SodaStream paid for itself in about nine months.
So, soda is terrible for your heath, your community’s health, and your pocketbook. But what about the environment?
Bubbly water is better for the environment.
While aluminum is the most frequently recycled beverage container, not needing a container in the first place is much better. With a SodaStream, you carbonate the water in a special bottle meant to withstand the process. Each bottle has an expiration date, but this really the date that the bottle is no longer covered or expected to handle the process. Many people use their bottles long past the expiration date and only discard them if cracks or discoloration occur. Once the water is carbonated, you can drink straight from it or pour a glass.
According to the Aluminum Association, in 2016, 49.4% of consumer aluminum beverage containers were recycled (compared with 39.5% for glass bottles and 30.1% for plastic bottles). Recycling rates of aluminum have been declining the last few years after reaching a high of approximately 56% in 2014. One way to combat the lack of recycling in general is to adopt practices that reduce the inflow of items that may need recycling into your home. If it never comes in, you don’t have to worry about what to do with it later.
What do you think? Have you or would you give up soda? Do you drink bubbly water?